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March 2014Vol. 15, No. 3Promoting Kinship Foster Care

When it is possible to do so, children should be placed with relatives if they must be removed from their homes. Research shows that formal kinship foster care provides greater stability for children and youth than licensed foster homes and that kinship caregivers can reduce trauma related to being removed from the home. Kinship foster care also serves as an alternative for out-of-home placement as the number of licensed foster care providers decreases. The article "Kinship Foster Caregivers — Partners for Permanency," Social Work Today, 13(5), outlines the different types of kinship care, the need for kinship foster caregivers, the benefits of children living with kinship caregivers, and the lack of services available to these caregivers.

There are two types of kinship caregivers: (1) those who are formally involved with the child welfare system and (2) those caregivers who care for the children on an informal basis, without child welfare involvement. Kinship caregivers include grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings of the children requiring care, cousins, and, in some cases, fictive kin or unrelated "relatives," in which someone who is not blood related is considered a family member. The article points to 2011 census data showing that 2.8 million children (4 percent of the children in the United States) lived with grandparent caregivers. Additional research indicates that the majority of kinship caregivers fall under the "informal" category. Information in the article indicates that both formal and informal kinship caregivers tend to receive less financial, educational, emotional, and supportive assistance than nonrelative, licensed foster parents. The article also provides information about the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, its benefits for kinship caregivers and children, and services and programs that have been established as a result of the legislation.

"Kinship Foster Caregivers: Partners for Permanency," by Lynne Soine, Social Work Today, 13(5), 2013 is available on the Social Work Today website: