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 increased. 

Research shows 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?

  • Kinship 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 strain.
  • Kinship families 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.
  • Kinship families 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.