2.6 million children in 2012 were living in households that had no
legal parent present but were headed by a grandparent, relative, or
other non-parent caretaker.28
According to a recent study, families are also relying on
kinship care at a much higher rate than in years past.29 Kinship care
describes situations in which children are cared for full time by blood
relatives or other adults, such as godparents or close family friends.30
This arrangement may be formal with state-supervised placement of
the child, or informal through a family arrangement and without state
supervision or secured legal custody of the child.31 Today, close
family friends and extended family members provide care for more
than 2.7 million children in the United States, an increase of almost
18 percent over the past decade.32 The vast majority of these children
live in informal kinship care arrangements without any child
protective services involvement, state supervision, or formal legal
California, the nation’s most populous state, serves as an
example of this phenomenon. In California, almost half a million
children under the age of eighteen, approximately 6.4 percent, lived
in grandparent-head households in 1990.34 From 1990 to 2000, there
was a 50 percent increase in this type of living situation, more than
29 See THE ANNIE E. CASEY FOUND., STEPPING UP FOR KIDS: WHAT GOVERNMENT
AND COMMUNITIES SHOULD DO TO SUPPORT KINSHIP FAMILIES 4 (2012),
Population Reference Bureau’s analysis of the 2009, 2010, and 2011 Current
Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Survey).
31 See id. at 1.
32 See id. (citing Population Reference Bureau’s analysis of the 2009, 2010, and
2011 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Survey and noting
that 104,000 of the children in kinship placements have been placed formally as
part of a state-supervised foster care system).
33 See id. at 2.
34 Mary L. Blackburn, Grandchildren Raised by Grandparents a Troubling Trend,
CAL. AGRIC., Mar.–Apr. 2001, at 10, 11 (citing the U.S. Census).