Archive for the ‘Journal of Family Strengths’ Category

Grandparents in Kinship Care: Help or Hindrance to Family Preservation

December 9, 2011 Comments off

Grandparents in Kinship Care: Help or Hindrance to Family Preservation (PDF)
Source: Journal of Family Strengths

Grandparents raising grandchildren have received a tremendous amount of attention within the past decades. There has been a 30% increase since 1990 in the number of children living in grandparent-headed households (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). In 1997, 5.5 million grandparents reported raising their grandchildren (Hegar & Scannapieco, 1999; 2005).

Billingsley (1998) emphasized that, in the African American community, a long-standing tradition has been informal adoption in which grandparents and relatives, neighbors, or fictive kin take on the responsibility of raising children whose parents are unable to care for them. Child welfare policy requires that, if parents cannot take care of their children, primary consideration should be given to placing them with relatives or others with emotional ties to children (i.e., kinship care) (Lorkovich, Piccola, Groza, Brindo, & Marks, 2004; Scannapieco & Jackson, 1996). Although kinship care is a tradition rooted in the African American culture, lately it has drawn attention in the child welfare system (Kelch-Oliver, 2008; Scannapieco & Jackson, 1996). Despite the common stereotype of the single, African American grandmother raising grandchildren in the inner city, the phenomenon transcends all socioeconomic groups, geographic areas, and ethnicities. Kinship is a cultural phenomenon not limited to families of color (Hegar, 1999; KelchOliver, 2008). Members of the child’s extended family (usually the grandparents) provide formal kinship care as surrogate parents.

Regardless of the circumstances, grandparents and/or other kin have become the safety net for society (Hayslip & Kaminski, 2005, Goldberg-Glen, Sands, Cole, & Cristofalo, 1998). As an organized social service, large-scale kinship foster care is less than 20 years old and came into existence due to unanticipated increases in the number of children entering foster care. Also, the substantial decline in numbers of traditional foster homes led to the formal arrangement of placing children in relatives’ homes. Furthermore, in the 1980s, legal mandates and related changes in child welfare reimbursement policies and practices significantly increased placement with relatives (Berrick, 1997). Current kinship care policy and practice are shaped by federal and state policy and poses considerable debate for development and implementation for the child welfare system (Bratteli, Bjelde, & Pigatti, 2008; Pabustan-Claar, 2007).


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