studies indicated that children in kinship care experience better behavioral and mental health
functioning than children in non-kinship foster care even though, due to adverse experiences
including abuse and/or neglect that frequently precede all types of foster care placements, children
in both kinship care and non-relative foster care have more emotional and behavioral difficulties
than children residing with their biological parents. 38 However, studies using caregiver reports of
child behavior have consistently documented fewer behavioral problems for children in kinship
care versus non-relative foster care. 39 Standardized scores from the Achenbach Child Behavior
Checklist indicated that kinship foster parents reported significantly lower scores for their foster
children on the composite scales for internalizing, externalizing, and total problems compared to
non-kinship foster parents. 40
Kinship placements may be better suited to facilitate the maintenance of family and cultural
ties and assist children in developing their own cultural identities, as kinship caregivers are more
likely than non-relative foster parents to share a cultural background with the children in their
care. 41 Cultural dissimilarity between foster children and their caregivers has been linked to
negative psychosocial outcomes, particularly among minority children. 42 In addition to familial
and cultural continuity, children who enter care may have other strong ties to their communities.
As kinship caregivers are more likely to reside in the same neighborhoods as their relatives,
children in kinship placements may experience less disruption to the non-parental relationships
and institutions in their lives, such as schools, churches, community centers, etc. Even if a child is
placed with a distant relative with whom the child has not had frequent contact or may not even
know, shared family history, culture and traditions can promote bonding and lead to positive
Kinship caregivers are more likely to promote contact between the child and his/her parents
than non-relative foster parents. 43 Several studies have indicated that children placed in kinship
care are visited by their parents more frequently than children in non-relative foster care. 44
Visitation with biological parents during any type of foster placement is a complex issue,
38 Id. at 20.
40 See Amy Holton et al., A comparison of mental health problems in kinship and nonkinship foster care, 14 EUR.
CHILD & ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRY 200, 202-05 (2005); see also David M. Rubin et al., Impact of Kinship Care on
Behavioral Well-being for Children in Out-of-Home Care, 162 ARCHIVES OF PEDIATRICS & ADOLESCENT MED. 550,
551-61 (2008); see also Nancy Shore et al., Foster Parent and Teacher Assessments of Youth In Kinship and Non-Kinship Foster Care Placements: Are Behaviors Perceived Differently Across Settings?, 24 CHILD. & YOUTH SERVS.
REV. 109, 120-27 (2002); see also Michael Tarren‐Sweeney & Philip Hazell, Mental health of children in foster and
kinship care in New South Wales, Australia, 42 J. OF PEDIATRICS & CHILD HEALTH 89, 89-97 (2006); see also Susan
G. Timmer et al., Challenging Children in Kin Versus Nonkin Foster Care: Perceived Costs and Benefits to
Caregivers, 9 CHILD MALTREATMENT 251, 257-58 (2004).
41 Thomas E. Keller et al, Competencies and Problem Behaviors of Children in Family Foster Care: Variations by
Kinship Placement Status and Race, 23 CHILD. & YOUTH SERVS. REV. 915, 917-19 (2001).
42 See Font, supra note 18; see also Ann Schwartz, “Caught” versus “Taught:” Ethnic identity and the ethnic
socialization experiences of African American adolescents in kinship and non-kinship foster placements, 29 CHILD.
& YOUTH SERV. REV. 1201, 1204-15 (2007).
43 See Maurice Anderson & L. Oriana Linares, The role of cultural dissimilarity factors on child adjustment following
foster placement, 34 CHILD. & YOUTH SERV. REV. 597, 598-600 (2012); see also Jeremy D. Jewell et al., Examining
the influence of caregiver ethnicity on youth placed in out of home care: Ethnicity matters–for some, 10 CHILD. &
YOUTH SERVS. REV. 1278, 1279 (2010).
44 Nicole S. Le Prohn, The role of the kinship foster parent: A comparison of the role conceptions of relative and non-relative foster parents, 16 CHILD. & YOUTH SERVS. REV. 65, 75-77 (1994).