new child(ren) to the family can create additional stress, which may exacerbate preexisting mental
health difficulties or even cause mental health difficulties. 54 Grandparents who are providing
kinship caregiving have higher levels of depression than similarly aged grandparents who are not
caring for their grandchildren. 55 Moreover, children placed with a kinship caregiver who is older
and having health problems may display increased emotional and/or behavioral difficulties. 56 One
study found that African American youth placed with kinship caregivers who were older and in
poorer health showed an increase in externalizing behaviors. 57
Kinship caregivers are more often single parents, placing the demands and responsibilities
of caregiving on one adult. 58 Single parent families have less social support in the home due to not
having the opportunity to divide and share childcare and other domestic and household
responsibilities. Kinship caregivers may face isolation if immediate and extended family members
are not available to provide social support. Additionally, single parent homes may have increased
financial stress compared to two-parent, dual income homes.
Compared to non-relative foster caregivers, kinship caregivers have lower education
levels. 59 The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a longitudinal study of the
well-being of 5,501 children placed in foster care with either kinship caregivers (468 caregivers)
or non-relative foster parents (517 foster parents), found that kinship caregivers were
approximately three times more likely than non-kinship foster caregivers to have less than a high
school education. 60 Almost 30% of kinship caregivers had less than a high school education
compared to only 9.2% of non-relative foster parents. 61 Lower educational levels correlate with
lower household incomes and earning potentials. 62 Additionally, foster parents with lower levels
of education may have more difficulty securing resources for themselves and their foster child,
navigating the legal system, and effectively advocating for needed services for themselves and
their foster child.
Studies have found that kinship foster parents have lower incomes and tend to be poorer
than non-relative caregivers. 63 African American kinship caregivers have the lowest levels of
annual income and are also the least likely to own their own home. 64 The financial instability of
kinship caregivers creates added stress in the home as the kinship caregivers struggle to have the
financial resources to adequately care for the children placed in their home and to ensure the
children’s well-being. Adding foster children to a family that already has a limited income creates
additional stress in this family system.
54 See generally, Ramona W. Denby et al., Culture and Coping: Kinship Caregivers’ Experiences with Stress 32
CHILD. & ADOLESCENT SOC. WORK J. 465 (2015).
55 Ehrle & Geen, supra note 52, at 2.
56Id. at 1-2.
57 Esme Fuller-Thomson & Meredith Minkler, African American Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A National
Profile of Demographic and Health Characteristics, HEALTH & SOC. WORK 25, 109-18 (2000).
58 Anne K. Rufa & Patrick J. Fowler, Kinship foster care among African American youth: Interaction effects at
multiple contextual levels 42 J. OF SOC. SERV. RES. 26, 35 (2016).
59 Ehrle & Geen, supra note 52, at 2.
60 ADMINIS TRATION FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES: OFFICE OF PLANNING, RESEARCH & EVALUATION, National Survey
of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, 15 KINSHIP CAREGIVERS IN THE CHILD WELFARE SYS. 1, 3 (2007),
64 See id.; see also Jill Duerr Berrick, When Children Cannot Remain Home: Foster Family Care and Kinship Care 8
FUTURE OF CHILD. 77, 78 (1998).