• September 2017
  • Vol. 18, No. 6

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New Kinship Care Guidelines From the American Academy of Pediatrics

As an increasing number of grandparents and other family relatives care for children in formal or informal care arrangements, pediatricians can help by better understanding the unique needs of children in kinship care. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now offers new guidelines for how doctors can take a more active role in promoting safety and well-being in kinship care families.

The March 2017 statement provides pediatricians with a brief background history and legal information on kinship care and provides strategies for addressing the individual needs of children and families in kinship care, including how to connect them with social services and less formalized community resources.

The following are among the recommendations for pediatric practice:

  • Identify guardianship arrangements during routine office visits to ensure the coordination of comprehensive care
  • Identify community resources to help families providing kinship care
  • Understand local statutes governing guardianship and medical consent for children in kinship care
  • Follow AAP guidance regarding health care for children in foster care (since children in kinship care share similar needs)
  • Offer standardized developmental screenings for children in kinship care and refer them for early intervention or behavioral health treatment, as warranted

These guidelines also suggest several opportunities for public health agencies and the health-care system to promote better and more coordinated kinship care, including training residency students on the needs of kinship families, collaborating with schools and social service agencies, and providing community leadership to help kinship families navigate across the many child-serving systems.

Needs of Kinship Care Families and Pediatric Practice is available at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2017/03/23/peds.2017-0099.full.pdf (718 KB).

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