uncomfortable position of having to supervise and monitor visits between the child and parents. 75
It is also possible that visitation guidelines are not set as clearly and formally for the kinship foster
care placement as they are for non-relative foster placements. 76 More frequent unauthorized
visitation could result in the foster child having unsupervised access to abusive parents, creating a
potential threat to the child’s safety and well-being. 77
While kinship caregivers face many challenges, each of these challenges can be alleviated,
either partially or completely, with the provision of appropriate supportive services. Financial and
programmatic support is needed to adequately support kinship caregivers, who are the preferred
out-of-home placement for foster youth.
IV. RESOURCES NEEDED TO SUPPORT KINSHIP FAMILIES
For kinship caregivers to provide quality care for their relative foster youth, there is need
for allocation of additional resources to support the success of kinship foster placements and to
promote the well-being of the children placed in these homes. Based on the identified challenges
for kinship foster caregivers, areas of needed support for these placements include education and
kinship caregiver training, emotional support for the caregivers, financial support, and respite
childcare. Additionally, policy and guidance from child welfare services, specifically clear
visitation guidelines, and more active involvement of child welfare services social workers is
necessary to support kinship foster placements. However, the involvement of child welfare
services must be uniquely tailored to the specifics of kinship caregiving in order to encourage
collaboration between child welfare services, social workers, and kinship caregivers.
A. Financial Support
As noted earlier in this paper, kinship caregivers often are of lower socioeconomic status
than non-relative foster parents. 78 Adding a foster child to their home even further stresses finances.
Kinship caregivers frequently encounter financial uncertainty and changes when they begin to
provide care for a relative’s child. 79 This is particularly true because kinship caregivers do not have
the luxury of planning to bring a child into their home. Instead, a family emergency has occurred,
and the kinship caregiver is identified to take a relative’s child into their home. Income instability
of the kinship caregiving family has a multitude of risks for the foster child, which are exacerbated
by the potential abuse, neglect or other traumatic events that may have prompted children to be
removed from their home and placed in kinship care. Children’s healthy development is adversely
impacted by a lack of adequate family income. Kinship caregivers need the same adequate monthly
stipends as received by all foster care providers and may also benefit from food vouchers,
childcare, housing assistance, and other emergency assistance programs or bridge funding to assist
with their unexpected added expenses upon placement of a child in their home.
75 See Kiraly & Humphreys, supra note 45, at 110-13.
76 See generally Wendy L. Haight et al., Understanding and Supporting Parent-Child Relationships during Foster
Care Visits: Attachment Theory and Research, 48 SOC. WORK 195 (2003).
77 See McWey et al., supra note 46, at 1-5.
78 See Kiraly & Humphreys, supra note 45, at 106, 110.