Kinship Care; Extending Care for Kids

Article excerpt

More and more, children are not being raised by their parents. These non-parental caregivers often need some help.

In fact, 2.7 million American children are being raised by family members and close family friends, an increase of almost 18 percent in the last decade, reports the Annie E. Casey Foundation in a Kids Count report titled "Stepping Up for Kids."

And in the last decade, the number of children in kinship care has grown six times faster than the general population.

For African-American children, 1 in 5 spend time in kinship care during some point in their childhood.

A small percentage of the children have been placed with kin as part of state supervised foster care. With help, these arrangements can work well.

SUPPORT OFTEN NEEDED

The crux of the report is to ask what the state can do to support these often awkward arrangements so that children can grow up as productive citizens.

Generally, children are given up because parents are having difficulties: substance abuse, mental illness, child abuse, neglect, illness, death, incarceration, domestic violence or deportation.

By and large, these are not benign conditions other than having to give up children for employment reasons, such as military deployment or moving for a job.

More than 1 in 4 children in foster care are with relatives. That's preferable in most cases. It minimizes the trauma of being separated from the parents. …