Child development scholars recognize the tremendous benefits of kinship care for children, which include the following:
- Less trauma and more permanency. Kinship care minimizes the trauma for children by offering more familiarity and continuity. Relatives are often willing to take large sibling groups and live in the same neighborhood, keeping the children in their school and community (Epstein, 2017). Relatives are also less likely to request removal of problematic children and more likely to become permanent guardians (Chamberlain et al., 2006).
- Better behavioral and mental health outcomes. Children in kinship care have fewer behavioral problems (Cheung et al., 2011; Rubin et al., 2008) and better social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes than youth in non-kinship foster care (Garcia et al, 2015; Winokur, Holtan, & Batchelder, 2014).
- Stronger sibling ties. Children placed in kinship care have a much higher likelihood of staying connected to or living with siblings than children in non-kinship foster care (Wulczyn & Zimmerman, 2005).
- Protects cultural identity. Children in kinship care are much more likely to stay connected to their extended family and maintain their cultures and customs, which promotes healthy child development and a sense of belonging (Epstein, 2017).
- Stronger bridge into adulthood. Children who age out of foster care often face adulthood alone and have very poor outcomes (e.g., homelessness and criminal involvement). Children in kinship care benefit from a connection to a family member that helps them transition more successfully to self-sufficiency in adulthood.
Chamberlain, P., Price, J. M., Reid, J. B., Landsverk, J., Fisher, P. A., & Stoolmiller, M. (2006). Who disrupts from placement in foster and kinship care? Child abuse & neglect, 30(4), 409-424.
Cheung, C., Goodman, D., Leckie, G., & Jenkins, J. M. (2011). Understanding contextual effects on externalizing behaviors in children in out-of-home care: Influence of workers and foster families. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(10), 2050-2060.
Epstein, H. R. (2017, July 1). Kinship care is better for children and families. American Bar Association.
Garcia, A., O’Reilly, A., Matone, M., Kim, M., Long, J., & Rubin, D. M. (2015). The influence of caregiver depression on children in non-relative foster care versus kinship care placements. Maternal and child health journal, 19(3), 459-467.
Rubin, D. M., Downes, K. J., O’Reilly, A. L., Mekonnen, R., Luan, X., & Localio, R. (2008). Impact of kinship care on behavioral well-being for children in out-of-home care. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 162(6), 550-556.
Winokur, M., Holtan, A., & Batchelder, K. E. (2014). Kinship care for the safety, permanency, and well‐being of children removed from the home for maltreatment. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (1).
Wulczyn, F., & Zimmerman, E. (2005). Sibling placements in longitudinal perspective. Children and Youth Services Review, 27(7), 741-763.