If a kinship caregiver already has a relationship with the child, a caregiving role in the
child’s life and a pre-established bond, the transition to foster care will likely be easier. Familiarity
and comfort may already exist in kinship foster care in contrast to a placement with a stranger.
Kinship care can allow children to live with people they know and trust, easing the transition to
out-of-home care and minimizing the potential traumatic impact of being removed from one’s
home. Additionally, kinship caregivers may already be aware of a child’s challenges and may be
more prepared to manage these. Even if a well-established relationship between the child and the
kinship caregiver does not exist prior to kinship placement, shared family history, culture, and
traditions can facilitate bond formation. 18
Another benefit of kinship placements is that they are likely to increase the probability that
children will remain with their siblings. 19 Placement with a sibling can provide social and
emotional support and ease the transition to a new caregiving environment for the children. 20 The
comfort, continuity, and connection present when placed with a sibling is a unique type of
preexisting bond that can help these youth support each other as they transition to a kinship foster
The placement of children with kinship caregivers can promote long-term positive
outcomes for foster youth through stable and consistent family relationships that provide many of
the building blocks necessary for youth to develop into loving, stable, trusting, and competent
adults. 21 In addition to alleviating some of the effects of a disrupted attachment, research has
repeatedly documented increased stability for children in kinship foster care over children placed
in non-relative foster care, which also corresponds with better mental health functioning of the
child. 22 The stability of foster care arrangements has been a focal point of foster care practice and
policy reforms given evidence that instability negatively impacts children's immediate and long-term well-being. 23 Increased stability and minimal placement disruptions promote greater
emotional security in children. 24 The reasons for greater placement stability in kinship care are
multi-determined, based on child factors, foster parent factors, and the interaction of these
factors. 25 Frequently, externalizing behavioral problems and/or academic difficulties prompt foster
parents to request that a child be removed from their home. 26 A kinship foster parent may be more
tolerant of a child’s behavioral problems and, therefore, not request the child be moved even if the
child is acting out. 27 A kinship caregiver may have feelings of obligation and dutifulness to the
18 Sarah A. Font, Is Higher Placement Stability in Kinship Foster Care by Virtue or Design?, 42 CHILD ABUSE &
NEGLECT 99, 101 (2015).
19 CHILD WELFARE INFORMATION GATEWAY, WORKING WITH KINSHIP CAREGIVERS 4 (2012)
https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/kinship.pdf. [hereinafter WORKING WITH KINSHIP CAREGIVERS].
20 Fred Wulczyn & Emily Zimmerman, Sibling Placements in Longitudinal Perspective, 17 CHILD. & YOUTH SERV.
REV. 741, 742 (2005).
21 Valerie O’Brien, The Benefits and Challenges of Kinship Care, 18 CHILD CARE IN PRAC. 127, 130 (2012).
22 Andersen & Fallesen, supra note 9, at 70.
23 See Font, supra note 18, at 99; see also Rae R. Newton et al., Children and Youth in Foster Care: Disentangling
the Relationship Between Problem Behaviors and Number of Placements, 24 CHILD ABUSE & NEGLECT: THE INT’L J.
1363, 1363-64, 1368-69, 1371-73 (2000); see also Yvonne A. Unrau et al., Former foster youth remember multiple
placement moves: A journey of loss and hope, 30 CHILD. & YOUTH SERV. REV. 1256, 1256-57, 1259-64 (2008).
24 Unrau et al., supra note 23, at 1257.
25 Andersen, supra note 9, at 68-70.
26 Rae et al., supra note 23, at 1369.