Kinship Homes Need More Resources, Fewer Obstacles

The Issue 

Placing children with relatives or fictive kin when a child cannot remain safely in their home increases the likelihood of a child being with someone they know, promoting stability during a challenging time. Kinship foster care placements have been found to improve a child’s overall well-being and reduce behavioral and mental health challenges when compared to alternative placement options.  

Although child welfare policies are increasingly supporting kinship placements, obstacles still reduce the likelihood of the child remaining in the home. Existing policies to approve and license kinship homes do not recognize the strengths and needs of kinship families. Kinship families receive less financial support and fewer connections to services than non-family foster homes. Discriminatory practices have also been found, with over-surveillance practices being more prevalent with Black relatives and fictive kin when compared to their White counterparts. 

The Evidence 

In this brief, Chapin Hall Policy Analyst Dr. Claire Kimberly summarizes obstacles faced by kinship foster families that reduce stability for the children moved into their homes. The brief includes information from federal and state policies on kinship foster care and empirical research on the unique challenges kinship families face. Expert perspectives on best practices to support placement stability in kinship foster homes are also included. Examples demonstrate obstacles faced by kinship families with existing state policies and the relatively low levels of support they receive—obstacles that have an exacerbated effect on Black and Brown kinship families.  

The Way Forward 

The brief features guided steps for change, including examples from jurisdictions across the nation that have tackled these challenges. Actionable recommendations are provided for policymakers, child welfare leaders, and caseworkers to build on the strengths of relatives and fictive kin, further supporting the benefits they could provide our children and youth.  

Changes are required to make kinship care more effective. This brief provides the following:  

  • Guidance on how to change existing licensing practices to increase resources for kinship foster families. 
  • Tools to support standardizing placement decisions to reduce discriminatory practices. 
  • Examples of practices being used across the country that could be replicated to expand existing resources, promoting stability of kinship foster placements. 

For more information, contact Dr. Claire Kimberly. To learn more about our work in kinship care, visit our project page, Kinship Care Leads to Better Outcomes for Children. 

Read the brief 

Recommended Citation
Kimberly, C. (2023). Promoting stability in kinship foster homes. Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.