The Facts about Kinship Care:
The 2000 US Census counted Grandparents Raising Grandchildren for the
first time ever. At that time, 2.4 million grandparents were the
primary caregivers for children in our country; in Ohio, the number was
86,000 grandparent caregivers. Remember, this only counts grandparents,
not other kin caregivers, and many of these families involve sibling
groups of children. These children are being cared for by familiar
faces, and have avoided the foster care system. We are anxious to see
new numbers from the 2010 Census, as it is believed the numbers have
that children and youth fortunate enough to be raised by a safe familiar
kinship caregiver have better outcomes than those children in unrelated
foster care – more regular school attendance, better grades and fewer
community problems. And they are less likely to move from home to home.
Why Do We Support Kinship Caregivers?
Personal and Family responsibility is a foundation for our society. We
expect families to take care of their own, and as noted, child outcomes
are better when they do.
While the child protection system works to
strengthen families that are struggling to positively care for their own
child, kinship offers an important option when the child cannot safely
remain in their own home. And while foster care is a valuable and
necessary resource in many cases, we know children grow better living in
safe, familiar homes as opposed to safe but unrelated foster care.
Kinship care reduces the trauma of foster care, as well as the
governmental costs associated with paid placement. It is emotionally
and fiscally sound policy.
How are Kinship Families Different from Other Families?
are different from birth families, in that the caregiver did not plan to raise the
children in their care, but agreed to take on the task when needed!
We all live within our current means, adding in a little one with
new child care costs, or a teen with significant clothing, grocery
and school activities fees is an unexpected financial and emotional
are different from unrelated foster caregivers as well.
Foster care is a contractual business arrangement with a daily per
diem rate, many regulations and additional red tape. While safety
assessments and discussion of child needs is common to both kinship
and foster care, kinship care is not a contractual business
arrangement - they are family to kids, and hence, less likely to
experience movement of the child between families. Yet that family
still experiences the everyday costs of raising a child, thus it is
critical to support them in a variety of ways.
may also be different from adoptive families. While open adoption is becoming more and more
common, there is no question that kinship families have a higher
level of knowledge and often interaction with the birth parent.
While judicial permanency is encouraged for all children, the
discussion of how and when to achieve that permanency may be a
different conversation when the parent is also the caregiver’s child
or sibling…thus, it is important to seek permanency, but the
conversation may be different than for traditional adoptive parents.