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outcomes, children placed in family foster care have higher educational achievements and lower
rates of criminal behavior than children placed in group care. 9 Foster care, specifically kinship
care, when appropriately supported, can aid in resolving some of the attachment and subsequent
social, emotional and behavioral issues children face when entering foster care. 10 In accordance
with the United Nations 2010 resolution, a strategy needs to be developed to deinstitutionalize
children from large residential care facilities. 11 Taking this resolution a step further, there is also a
need to find additional family-based foster placements for children as an alternative to smaller
group care settings, an important and underutilized resource is kinship care. Kinship care providers
are adults who have a familial or kin relationship to the child. 12 Kinship care providers are
frequently grandparents, but can also be aunts, uncles, older siblings, great-grandparents, cousins,
step-parents, and other relatives. 13 In this paper, the term kinship care will also be used to describe
non-related extended family members who have a family-like relationship with the child but no
blood ties to the child.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, of the estimated
437,465 children in foster care nationally on September 30, 2016, 45% were in non-relative foster
family homes, 32% were in kinship homes, 5% were in group homes, and 7% were in institutions. 14
These placement rates mark a shift between fiscal year 2005 and fiscal year 2016, with a notable
increase in the use of placements with relatives and a decrease in placements in group homes.
During this time period, there was an 8% increase in children placed in kinship care. 15 This increase
correlated with a 6% decrease of children in institutional or group home (congregate care)
settings. 16 While the statistics already indicate the shift toward kinship care, this paper will address
how this shift can be better supported and why it is needed.
II. BENEFITS OF KINSHIP CARE
Kinship placements are an important source of family-based foster placements. There are
numerous advantages of kinship care. When children are removed from their home, they often
experience a disruption of attachment with their primary caregiver and a loss of their typical
routine, and they face the possibility of being placed with strangers. Due to the familiarity of the
environment, kinship care can help mitigate some of the deleterious and potentially traumatic
effects of children being removed from their home by the child welfare system. Kinship care
provides continuity of social, personal and family history, and provides multiple other benefits for
the foster child. 17
9 Signe Hald Andersen & Peter Fallesen, Family matters? The effect of kinship care on foster care disruption rates,
48 CHILD ABUSE & NEGLECT: THE INT’L J. 68, 69 (2015).
10 Eun Koh, Permanency outcomes of children in kinship and non-kinship foster care: Testing the external validity of
kinship effect, 32 CHILD. & YOUTH SERV. REV. 389, 397 (2010).
11 G.A. Res. 64/142, ¶ 23 (Feb. 24, 2010).
12 What is Kinship Care? ANNIE E. CASEY FOUND.: CASEY CONNECTS (Nov. 2018), https://www.aecf.org/blog/what-is-kinship-care/.
14 Children’s Bureau, Child Welfare Info. Gateway, AFCARS Report #24, (Nov. 2018),
15 Children’s Bureau, Child Welfare Info. Gateway, AFCARS Report #13, (Nov. 2018),