• August 2003
  • Vol. 4, No. 6

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New Research Sheds Light on Kinship Care Issues

Three research briefs published in April by the Urban Institute explore kinship placements and their impact on involved children and families. The briefs, When Child Welfare Agencies Rely on Voluntary Kinship Placements, Finding Permanent Homes for Foster Children: Issues Raised by Kinship Care, and Foster Children Placed with Relatives Often Receive Less Government Help, discuss the findings from intensive case studies of local kinship care policies and practices in 13 counties in Alabama, California, Connecticut, and Indiana, conducted during the spring and summer of 2001. Suggestions for practice and future research are also offered.

Some of the findings include:

  • Practices regarding voluntary and private kinship care vary widely across States and, to a lesser degree, among counties within a State and among individual offices and workers within a county. (When Child Welfare Agencies Rely …)
  • Child welfare agencies often pursue permanency less vigorously when children are placed with kin. (Finding Permanent Homes ...)
  • Birth parents may be less motivated to follow through with requirements for reunification when children are living with relatives. (Finding Permanent Homes ...)
  • Most relatives are willing to adopt; however, many kin face disincentives to adoption. (Finding Permanent Homes ...)
  • Kin generally receive fewer services than non-kin foster parents, despite often having fewer resources and greater needs. (Foster Children Placed with Relatives ...)

Part of the Assessing the New Federalism project, the briefs can be found on the Urban Institute website at www.urban.org/content/Research/NewFederalism/Publications/ PublicationsbyTopic/Income/ChildWelfare/Child.htm.

Additional Resources on Kinship Care:

  • Two recent articles in Child Welfare Journal also explore the impact of kinship care on families. "Training and Services for Kinship and Nonkinship Foster Families," in the November/December 2002 issue, finds few differences between kinship and nonkinship caregivers in terms of training or services, demographic characteristics, or foster children's problems. In the January/February 2003 issue, "A First Look at the Need for Enhanced Support Services for Kinship Caregivers" presents the findings from a series of focus groups with kinship caregivers. Abstracts of both articles can be found on the Child Welfare League of America website at www.cwla.org/articles/cwjabstracts.htm.
  • A literature review of research regarding kinship foster care, "Kinship Family Foster Care: A Methodological and Substantive Synthesis of Research," is available on the University of Tennessee website at http://utcmhsrc.csw.utk.edu/caseyproject/papers/CYSR%20Kinship%20Synthesis.pdf and will appear in a future issue of Children and Youth Services Review.

Related Items

Read more about kinship care practices in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

  • "Kinship Care Policies Differ by State, Continue to Evolve" (March 2003)
  • "Kinship Caregiver Programs" (April 2002)

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