Kinship Care in California- Issues and Opportunities

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					Kinship Care in California: Issues and Opportunities

Jill Duerr Berrick School of Social Welfare University of California at Berkeley Presented to the Child Welfare Council April 14, 2008

Who is Taking Care of California’s Foster Children?

Kinship Care 36%

FFA Care 26% Foster Family Care 10% Group care 8%

Other 20%

Children in Foster Care 1988-2007
120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 0
'88 '89 '90 '91 '92 '93 '94 '95 '96 '97 '98 '99 '00 '01 '02 '03 '04 '05 '06 '07






Why Kin?

Legal imperative Moral imperative

Who are Kinship Caregivers?

Adults related to the child by blood, adoption, or affinity within the fifth degree

Are they Foster Parents?

Relatives do not need to be licensed, but must be assessed using equivalent standards of foster parent licensure – with allowance for waivers of some (non-safety) requirements on a case-by-case basis.

Kinship Care Across the Country


Variability in Kinship Placements by County


24% 31%



What are the Characteristics of Kin and Non-Kin Caregivers?

Kinship Caregiver Characteristics

Similar to Non-Kin
Mental Health Poor # Children in the Home

Kinship Characteristics
Similar to Non-Kin Mental Health Poor
Single Parent

Dissimilar to Non-Kin Age
Physical Health

# Children in the Home

Education Very Poor # of Siblings cared for in the Home Distressed Neighborhoods

If April is placed with kin, what are her likely experiences and outcomes?

Experiences in Kinship Care
• Removal may be less traumatic • Visitation with birth parents and siblings is more frequent • Placement with siblings more likely • Fewer placement changes while in care

Children’s Views of their Caregivers
Children “like who they’re living with”

Children feel like they’re “part of the family”

Kinship Outcomes

Similar to Non-Kin Preparation for Independent Living Adult Outcomes

Dissimilar to Non-Kin Less Likely to be Adopted May Remain in Care Longer More likely to exit to Guardianship (Kin-GAP) Less likely to Reunify in 5 years May be Less Likely to Re-enter Care

System Challenges vis-à-vis Kinship Care
• Family Finding • Relative approval

Ongoing Caregiver Challenges
• Need for KSSP services in all counties • Support, information, and responsiveness of child welfare system • Coordination across service systems to make access for children easier

Needell, B., et al., (2007). Child welfare services reports for California. University of California at Berkeley, Center for Social Services Research. Wulczyn, F., Chen, L., & Hislop, K.B. (2007). Foster care dynamics: 2000-2005. Chapin Hall Center for Children. Geen, R. (2004). The evolution of kinship care policy and practice. The Future of Children, 14(1). National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW). Foster children’s caregivers and caregiving environments. Administration for Children and Families. Fox, A., Berrick, J. D., & Frasch, K. (in press). Safety, family, permanency, and child well-being: What we can learn from children. Child Welfare.

Robin Ford

Regina Deihl Legal Advocates for Permanent Parenting

Common Challenges Facing Caregivers
• Access to services/resources • Placement issues • Approval/Licensing problems • Lack of access to information about the child/case • Subsidy concerns • Court information and participation • Practical effects of permanency options • Educational assessments and services

Caregivers are a lynchpin to improving safety, permanency, and well-being, BUT

Inclusion is lacking Engagement is often poor

Caregiver Support Needs
• Individualized assistance • Communication network • Leadership development/advocacy assistance • Access to policy making forums • Training and informal support systems • Respite and other practical supports

Possible CWC Engagement
• Develop strategies to assist caregiver families to access services for children/youth across systems • Establish policies for integrated communication • Collaborate to develop integrated training and technical assistance models for all relevant agencies • Practical supports to participate in policy making forums • Develop statewide policy on respite and practical supports

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