Kinship caregivers provide significant support for children receiving child welfare services. Grandparents and other relatives provide parental support for children whose own parents are unable to care for them. Kinship caregivers and their families may face health and behavioral health challenges that can affect family outcomes. Find resources that discuss the behavioral health benefits of children placed in kinship care compared to children placed in nonrelative care, challenges faced by kinship caregivers related to behavioral health, caregivers' access to health and behavioral health services, and ways to provide support.
Breaking Through the Bars: Exploring the Experiences of Addicted Incarcerated Parents Whose Children Are Cared for by Relatives
Smith, Krisman, Strozier, & Marley (2004)
Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 85(2)
Describes a research study designed to explain the experiences of incarcerated parents whose children are in kinship care. Includes semistructured interviews with parents on issues such as child bonding, relationships with caregivers, and the impact of drug abuse.
Health Outcomes and Family Services in Kinship Care: Analysis of a National Sample of Children in the Child Welfare System
Sakai, Lin, & Flores (2011)
Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 165(2)
Presents a comprehensive assessment of family services, health, and health-care outcomes for children in kinship care versus foster care over a 3-year period. Results show that kinship caregivers received fewer support services than foster caregivers; children in kinship care fared better with behavioral and social skills problems, mental health therapy use, and psychotropic medication use; and adolescents in kinship care may be at higher risk for substance use and pregnancy.
Kinship Care for the Safety, Permanency, and Well-Being of Children Removed From the Home for Maltreatment (PDF - 989 KB)
Winokur, Holtan, & Valentine (2009)
Presents a technical report that evaluates the effect of kinship care placement on the safety, permanency, and well-being of children removed from the home for maltreatment. Data from the multiple studies reviewed suggest that children in kinship foster care experience better behavioral development, mental health functioning, and placement stability than do children in nonkinship foster care.
Mental Health Needs in Kinship Care Should Be a Priority (PDF - 202 KB)
Mental Health News, 12(4)
Discusses the reasons kinship caregivers provide care to relative children and the mental health challenges faced by children and adolescents in kinship care. The article shares recommendations from a workgroup convened to determine why kinship caregivers have difficulty accessing mental health services.
Unmet Mental Health Service Needs in Kinship Care: The Importance of Assessing and Supporting Caregivers
Smithgall, Yang, & Weiner (2013)
Journal of Family Social Work, 16(5)
Presents a study that explores the unmet mental health needs among children in kinship care and calls for child welfare assessments to consider caregiver capacity to meet each child's needs, particularly within kinship care, and to respond to the resource, housing, education, and service needs of caregivers.