B. Childcare and Respite Care
For kinship caregivers, particularly those who work outside the home, childcare is a critical
need. 80 This may include day care for young children and before and after school care for older
children. Due to the sudden and unanticipated nature of most kinship foster placements, kinship
caregivers do not have pre-arranged childcare, which can complicate and compromise the kinship
placement. Many kinship care families have single parents who need to work outside of the home
or, if it is a two-parent kinship family, require dual-income earners to meet their financial
obligations, thus necessitating access to affordable childcare. 81 Another barrier to obtaining
childcare is that many childcare facilities operate at full capacity and have long wait lists. 82 Since
the kinship placement is unexpected, the amount of time it takes to place a child in childcare may
There is also a need for respite care, which provides kinship caregivers a temporary break
from their caregiving responsibilities. 83 Caring for children requires a massive amount of time and
energy, and many kinship caregivers, especially grandparents providing kinship care, assumed
their child rearing days were over prior to their relative being placed with them through kinship
care. 84 Especially since many kinship caregivers are older and in poor health, the day-to-day
physical and emotional challenges of raising a child can negatively impact the mental and physical
health of the caregiver, at the most extreme leading to burnout in the kinship relationship. 85
Additionally, when caregivers are fatigued and stressed, they are less likely to be patient and
attuned to the child’s needs. 86 Respite care can be utilized for kinship caregivers to attend their
own medical appointments, grocery shop, or simply rest and take a needed break to decompress to
enable them to better care for the child. The state of Washington conducted focus groups and
surveys with kinship caregivers to determine social service needs. Numerous focus group
participants requested respite care and reported it was “a vital service, providing time off to
recharge personal batteries and tend to other business.” 87 Many kinship caregivers in this study
reported that respite care was difficult to obtain, especially for children with special needs and
multiple children. 88
Respite care services can be provided in various formats. In-home respite care with the
caregiver, either present or not present, is a common form of respite care. 89 Another form of respite
care is community-based respite care in which a kinship caregiver drops off a child at a private
home or community location such as a YMCA, community center or social services agency. 90 For
80WORKING WITH KINSHIP CAREGIVERS, supra note 19, at 7.
81 See Ehrle & Geen, supra note 54, at 1-2.
82 Will Smith, Call to Action! Support Needed for Upcoming Legislation, Child Care Budget Proposal, STEP UP (Apr.
14, 2016), http://stepupforkin.org/2016/04/14/call-to-action-support-needed-for-upcoming-legislation/.
83 Adopt Us Kids, Taking A Break: Creating Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Respite Care in Your Community (Nov.
1, 2018), www.adoptuskids.org/_assets/files/NRCRFAP/resources/taking-a-break-respite-grandparents.
84 Jim Mayfield et al., Kinship Care in Washington State: Prevalence, Policy, and Needs, WASH. ST. INST. OF PUB.
POL’Y 1, 12 (June 2002), www.wsipp.wa.gov/ReportFile/796.
85 Id. at 30-31.