Foster Parents Receive More Support Than Kinship Caregivers

Nutrition Health Review, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Foster Parents Receive More Support Than Kinship Caregivers


Children who are placed with a relative because of mistreatment at home fare better in some areas than those placed in foster care, but they may have a higher risk of substance use and teenage pregnancy.

The findings also show that relatives-also known as kinship caregivers-receive fewer support services than foster parents.

Dr. Glenn Flores, Professor of Pediatrics and senior author of the study, said the findings are important because while most children removed from their homes are placed in foster care, kinship care is on the increase. Nationwide, more thatn 125,000 children removed from their immediate families are now living with relatives, partly because the number of available foster homes has decreased.

"Our findings indicate that kinship caregivers are significantly more likely to be single, unemployed, older and live in poorer households, yet they receive fewer support services than unrelated foster parents," said Dr. Flores, who also serves as head of general pediatrics at the university and Chief of General Pediatrics at Children's Medical Center Dallas. "Increased caregiver support services, such as additional financial aid and parent training classes, are needed urgently for kinship caregivers."

Researchers used data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being to compare family services, health and health care outcomes for children in kinship care and foster care. The survey, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, included a random sampling of children 14 and younger who were removed from their homes between October 1999 and December 2000 because of maltreatment.

A total of 1,308 children and their caregivers participated in the study; 572 children had been placed with relatives and 736 were in foster care. Researchers conducted face-to-face interviews at the beginning of the study and again after three years, assessing the children's behavioral, mental health, and health-service use.

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