114 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 39: 1 2019]
of the kinship caregivers. For child welfare services caseworkers to best partner with kinship
caregivers, specific training must be provided for the caseworkers in order to understand the unique
needs of kinship caregiving families and how best to support these placements. Studies have shown
that caseworkers for kinship care families may have less familiarity with their kinship caseloads
due to less contact with, and less supervision of, kinship care families. 101 One study determined
that caseworkers were less likely to respond to requests for information from kinship caregivers
than non-relative caregivers. 102 Another study found that child welfare services caseworkers may
choose not to sustain regular contact with kinship caregivers due to the caseworker’s belief that
kinship caregivers prefer limited contact with child welfare service agencies. 103 In order to improve
caseworkers’ practices with kinship families, education and training specific to kinship caregiving
for child welfare services caseworkers would be beneficial. The challenge for policy makers and
professionals is to recognize the uniqueness of kinship care and build training programs in which
the strengths, complexities, and best social work practices are simultaneously considered so that
children placed with relatives can experience the best placement outcomes. 104
Connected to the previously identified kinship specific training needed for social workers,
provision of additional child welfare services for kinship families is also needed. Supportive
services provided by child welfare agency social workers are a possible mitigating factor that could
affect the outcome and quality of kinship care. 105 Despite the consistent finding that kinship
caregivers are a more vulnerable population than non-relative foster parents, they often receive
less support from child welfare agencies than other types of foster families. 106 Kinship caregivers
need to be involved in planning and placement decisions, which require increased collaboration,
coordination and contact with child welfare agencies. 107 Reciprocity is a key element in the
relationship between the kinship caregiver and the caseworker for forming a productive working
relationship that ultimately benefits the child placed in the home.
Finally, increased frequency of visits with parents, which is common in kinship care, may
require more social worker oversight and guidelines, so the kinship caregiver is not tasked with
negotiating and navigating visitation and potential supervision of these visits by him or herself.
Kinship families often identify parental visitation as an area needing additional social worker
involvement108 and social workers must be trained to meet these needs.
101 Robert Chipman et al., The Meaning of Quality in Kinship Foster Care: Caregiver,
Child, and Worker Perspectives, 83 FAM. IN SOCIETY: THE J. OF CONTEMPORARY SOC. SERV. 508, 510 (2002).
102 J. L. Thornton, An Investigation into the Nature of the Kinship Foster Home, PROQUEST DISSERTATIONS & THESES
103 Sandra S. Chipungu & Joyce E. Everett, The Power of Information: Exchange Patterns Between African-American Foster Parents and Child Welfare Workers, 3 J. OF MULTICULTURAL SOC. WORK 17, 33 (1994).
104 Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, On Their Own Terms: Supporting Kinship Care
Outside of TANF and Foster Care, U.S. DEP’T OF HEALTH & HUM. SERVS. (Feb. 13, 2018,
6:01 AM), https://aspe.hhs.gov/execsum/their-own-terms-supporting-kinship-care-outside-tanf-and-foster-care.
105 See Chipman et al., supra note 101, at 510.
108 See, e.g., Brian Christenson & Jerry McMurtry, A comparative evaluation of perseverance training of kinship and
nonkinship foster/adoptive families, 86 CHILD WELFARE 125, 125-138 (2007); see, e.g., Koh, supra note 10; see also
Rob Geen, The Evolution of Kinship Care Policy and Practice, 14 THE FUTURE OF CHILD. 131, 139 (2004).