Kinship/Relative Care

For resources on Fostering Connections and Kinship/Guardianship, click here.

Overview of Kinship Care

  • Kinship Care – The Best Interest for Children or a Foster Care Alternative?
    This issue of Fostering Families Today features kinship care resources, as well as the following articles:
    • Kinship Care: The History of a Name: This article by Eileen Mayers Pasztor, DSW, explains the history of the term kinship care. (March/April 2010)
    • Knowledge is Power: This article by Margaux Holbert, MSW, discusses the circumstances by which children may come into kinship care, some of the challenges kinship caregivers face, and a program called KIP (Knowledge is Power) which will offer educational support groups to kinship caregivers providing inter-active activities, group discussions, informational handouts and resources. (May 2010)
  • Different Types of Kinship Care 
    Children may come to live with their grandparents or other relatives in a number of ways, and only some of those ways involve the child welfare system. Kinship care arrangements fall roughly into three categories: (1) informal kinship care, (2) voluntary kinship care, and (3) formal kinship care. This resource from Child Welfare Information Gateway provides information on the three categories of kinship care. (2010)
  • NRCPFC Information Packet: Relative Placements
    This information packet prepared by NRCFCPP provides a good summary of kinship care including definitions, statistics, significant policy and legislation, model programs and practices, and websites. By Vanessa Cohen. (April 2008)


  • Stepping Up for Kids: What Government and Communities Should Do to Support Kinship Families
    In this policy report, the Annie E. Casey foundation explores the increased number of children living with extended family and close friends, a longtime practice known as kinship care. This publication includes the latest data for states, the District of Columbia, and the nation, as well as a set of recommendations on how to support kinship families. This resource, published by the Foundation’s KIDS COUNT project, is supplemented with several figures and charts. (2012)
  • Relative Foster Care Licensing Waivers in the States: Policies and Possibilities 
    The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 may be prompting many states to evaluate their child welfare policies and practices, including those related to foster care licensing and case-by-case waivers that may be needed in the cases of children placed with relatives. In an effort to provide states with critical information as they examine their licensing policies and practices, this document, published by CLASP and the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, presents background information on licensing for relatives. It also includes an overview of Title IV-E (of the Social Security Act) reimbursement for relative foster homes and information on the current landscape of waivers of foster home licensing standards, as well as recommendations for licensing standards that can help further the goal of maintaining family connections for children in foster care. (September 2010)
  • Placement of Children with Relatives
    In order for States to receive Federal payments for foster care and adoption assistance, Federal law requires that they "consider giving preference to an adult relative over a non-related caregiver when determining placement for a child, provided that the relative caregiver meets all relevant State child protection standards." This information provided by the Child Welfare Information Gateway summarizes State statutes regarding relatives for placement or guardianship, requirements for placement with relatives, relatives who may adopt, and requirements for adoption by relatives. (July 2010)
  • Highlights of Recent Kinship Care State Legislative Enactments
    This document from the National Conference of State Legislatures highlights recently enacted State legislation addressing kinship care for children receiving child welfare services. Legislation is described in the following areas: allowing grandparents and other relative caregivers to access medical care and treatment for children; allowing caregivers to enroll children in schools; promoting the placement of children with relatives; subsidizing guardianship and providing kinship foster care and other caregiver subsides and supports; allowing informal caregivers to qualify as de facto custodians with the right to initiate proceedings for appointment of a guardian; establishing a variety of study groups, task forces and oversight committees charged with examining issues facing kinship care providers; and authorizing kinship care navigator projects to help caregivers navigate their way through various systems such as child welfare, child care, TANF, health, legal/judicial, education and other services. Different State initiatives in each of these areas are described. (February 2008)


  • Training for Kinship Caregivers
    States have a variety of approaches regarding training and assessment for kinship caregivers. NRCPFC compiled information from the majority of the states here. States were contacted in Spring and Summer 2009. Note that this is not a comprehensive list of all training policies. (July 2009)
  • Training Kin to be Foster Parents: Best Practices from the Field 
    This issue brief from Child Focus provides an overview of efforts to adapt foster parent training to the unique needs and circumstances of kinship caregivers. The following topics are addressed: federal licensing requirements, including requirements for foster care training as a condition of licensing; limitations of traditional foster parent training for kinship caregivers; state and county efforts to develop foster parent training programs tailored specifically for kin; common themes related to kin-specific training; and questions that states and localities should consider as they develop kin-specific training. (July 2008)
  • Factors Leading to Premature Terminations of Kinship Care Placements: An Empirically-Based Curriculum 
    This curriculum from the California Social Work Education Center may be downloaded for use. The curriculum focuses on factors that may lead to differential placement outcomes for children who have become dependents of the court, as the result of abuse and neglect, and have been placed with kin rather than in traditional foster homes. The material is intended for use in training child welfare staff, including line workers, supervisors, and managers. An accompanying PowerPoint Presentation is also available. (2006)
  • A Tradition of Caring
    This curriculum by Child Welfare League of America is designed specifically for preparation of kinship caregivers. The nine-session curriculum provides kinship caregivers with 27 hours of valuable information and support related to kinship care.  Sessions designed to facilitate interaction and the sharing of experiences and support among participants. This program has been created for use by a broad spectrum of agencies: elder service programs; community social service and mental health agencies; kinship care resource centers; faith-affiliated, community-based, or other types of support groups; and public and private child welfare organizations. Rather than functioning primarily as a trainer, the person managing the group assumes the role of facilitator. Sessions are designed to allow the facilitator flexibility to respond to the needs, dynamics, and makeup of each group. (2003) This reasonably priced curriculum can be ordered by contacting:
  • Assessing Adult Relatives as Preferred Caregivers in Permanency Planning
    This competency-based curriculum was developed by the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning. It is intended to be used in coordination with your existing state laws, policies and best practices regarding safety and family study assessments, placement, permanency planning efforts, child and family well-being initiatives and foster/adoptive family licensing/approval procedures. (March 2002)
  • Empowering Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Training Manual for Group Leaders
    This manual from Carole B. Cox is a 14-session workshop designed to help grandparents who are raising their grandchildren alone. Group leaders can revise and expand upon the themes presented here to fit the needs of their particular work groups. Some of the main issues that are explored are: useful tips for grandparents on how to communicate effectively with their grandchildren on all topics ranging from drugs and sex, to sexually transmitted diseases; helping them learn how to deal with loss and abandonment issues; helping them develop and maintain self-esteem; dealing with special behavior problems; and appropriate ways of instilling and maintaining rules in the home. (April 2000)
  • The Kinship Care Practice Project
    Achieving Permanency for Children in Kinship Foster Care: A Training Manual
    These materials from Jane Addams College of Social Work – University of Illinois at Chicago can be downloaded at no cost and are intended for preparing child welfare caseworkers to engage family members in the development of a permanent plan. The material uses video clips to enhance learning. The six modules covered include:
    • The Context of Practice in Kinship Foster Care
    • The Sociocultural Contexts of Kinship Care: Formal and Informal System Constraints and Opportunities
    • Substance Abuse and its Impact on Family Systems
    • Convening the Kinship Network
    • Decision-Making & Family Empowerment
    • Supporting Permanent Plans

Impact of Kinship Care on Children

  • Children Living with and Cared for by Grandparents: State-Level Data from the American Community Survey
    Increasing numbers of children in the U.S. are living with their grandparents, many of whom are responsible for their grandchildren’s care. Grandparents may be called upon, often with little preparation, to provide primary care for their grandchildren in the face of family crisis. These circumstances can be stressful, not only for children, but for their grandparents, who often need to make major adjustments in their lives to step into a role they had not planned for, and for which they may be poorly prepared. Grandparental care can be rewarding in many ways for both children and their grandparents. Grandparents can bring economic resources, the wisdom of their years, and a sense of continuity and stability that benefit children. This brief examines recent trends, national and for each state, related to children who reside in their grandparents’ household. (October 2012)
  • Grandparents Living with Children: State-Level Data from the American Community Survey
    In recent years, increasing numbers of grandparents in the U.S. are living with their grandchildren, and many grandparents are responsible for their care. These trends can be attributed to a number of factors, including increasing numbers of single-parent families, continued high rates of marriage dissolution, parental incarceration, parental substance abuse, and difficult economic circumstances. In addition, situations that have long accounted for some care by grandparents are parents’ death or serious disability, parental abuse or neglect, and family/cultural preference. This brief examines recent trends, national and for each state, associated with grandparents who live with grandchildren. (October 2012)
  • Impact of Kinship Care on Behavioral Well-being for Children in Out-of-Home Care
    This study from the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine examined the influence of kinship care on behavioral problems after 18 and 36 months in out-of-home care. The authors concluded that children placed into kinship care had fewer behavioral problems 3 years after placement than children who were placed into foster care. This finding supports efforts to maximize placement of children with willing and available kin when they enter out-of-home care. (June 2008)
  • Is Kinship Care Good for Kids? 
    This brief from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) addresses benefits of and myths about kinship care. (March 2007)
  • Time for Reform - Support Relatives in Providing Foster Care and Permanent Families for Children
    This report from Generations United and The Pew Foundation presents the latest findings on the impact of relative care for children in foster care, describes the role of relatives as permanent families for the children in their care, and offers cost-effective ways to support relatives as caregivers through federal policy. It finds that children in relative foster care tend to be just as safe, or safer than, children placed with non-relative families. These placements often allow children to remain in their neighborhoods and schools and to live with their siblings. (2007)
  • Child Welfare Outcomes in Colorado: A Matched Comparison Between Children in Kinship and Foster Care
    This kinship care outcome study was conducted by the Social Work Research Center – Colorado State University - on behalf of the Applied Research in Child Welfare (ARCh) Project, which is a collaboration between the Colorado Department of Human Services twelve counties. The study employed a matched case design to compare children in kinship care with children in foster care on available child welfare outcomes. According to the findings, kinship care appears to be an evidence-based practice from both an outcome and cost-effectiveness perspective. (February 2006)
  • Kinship Care in the United States: A Systematic Review of Evidence-Based Research
    The Social Work Research Center at Colorado State University conducted this systematic review of quantitative research on kinship care in the United States. For this study, the child welfare outcomes were permanency, behavior problems, mental health service utilization, reentry, adaptive behaviors, family relations, mental health problems, and educational attainment. According to the research, children in kinship care experience better outcomes in regard to behavior problems, reentry, adaptive behaviors, family relations, and mental health problems than do children in foster care. However, children placed with kin are less likely to achieve permanency and utilize mental health services. (July 2005)

Tools and Resources

Resources and Tools from NRCPFC

  • Kinship Care and the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008: A Web-based Toolkit
    This NRCPFC web-based toolkit discusses the critical kinship care practices addressed in the Fostering Connections Act: notice to relatives, foster care licensing standards, placement with siblings, and family connections grants. The toolkit provides information and links to resources on each of these topics. The toolkit is accompanied by an organizational self study on kinship care, which can be used to review kinship care policies and practices through the lens of the Fostering Connections Act.
  • Tools for Working with Kinship Caregivers
    This NRCPFC document provides resources that will of assistance to kinship caregivers.  Child welfare professionals will also be able to find training materials, assessment tools, and handbooks for kinship caregivers. The resources are up-to-date, easy to access, and practical for caregivers. (Updated: March 2010)
  • Tools for Permanency - Kinship Care 
    The information in this NRCPFC tool can help child welfare agency and court practitioners evaluate whether or not kinship care is an option in any particular case.

Resources and Tools from Collaborating Organizations

  • Fostering Connections Kinship Toolkit
    The Fostering Connections Resource Center’s Kinship Network, led by the Children's Defense Fund and Child Focus, has developed a Fostering Connections Kinship Tool Kit that includes several resources designed to assist states that are still considering whether to apply for GAP funding and how to make the case for the investment. The toolkit also includes resources to help states implement the GAP option and identification and notice requirements and answer questions regarding all of the provisions that will affect children being raised by grandparents and other relatives. (2010)
  • Ten Steps Public Child Welfare Agencies Can Take to Support Children in Safe and Stable Kinship Families
    ChildFocus® outlines the ten steps public child welfare agencies can take to support children in safe and stable kinship families, a few of which are required by provisions of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. (September 2009)

  • Working with African American Adoptive, Foster and Kinship Families
    This guide was developed by AdoptUsKids to assist public and private child welfare staff in their work with prospective and current African American foster, adoptive and kinship families. It is important to remember that there is no “one size fits all” description of African American families. Rather, African American families, like all families, are diverse with various beliefs, values, and socioeconomic experiences. The guide includes the following sections: A historical perspective; strengths of African Americans; Tips to Remember; Additional Information (with resources).

  • African-American Kinship Caregivers: Principles for Developing Supportive Programs
    This report from Northwest Institute for Children and Families – University of Washington, authored by Jennifer Szolnoki and Katharine Cahn, offers still-timely information regarding the provision of supports to African-American caregivers. Originally developed to inform local grant making, it is based on a literature review of 45 published articles. Strengths, issues, and needs of African-American caregivers are identified and seven core principles for support programs are outlined. The report concludes with a brief summary of each of the reviewed articles. (April 2002)

Resources from the States

  • Alaska: A Guide to Child Protective Services for Relatives 
    This guide from Department of Health and Social Services - Office of Children’s Services provides an excellent example of a resource for relative caregivers that explains the child welfare and child protection process. It is designed to help relatives understand the reasons children come into the care of the Office of Children’s Services, the responsibility of the state, the role of the court, the importance of relatives and the options available to relatives. (August 2007)
  • Connecticut: Connecticut Kinship Navigator
    A comprehensive list of kinship care family resources and services from the United Way of Connecticut.
  • Georgia: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
    The Department of Human Services is reaching out to grandparents raising grandchildren by providing more access to resources through all of its services/programs. This website includes resources and services that are available statewide or countywide and will serve as a place for grandparents to get further referrals for their individual needs. It includes financial, health, and social services available for grandparents raising grandchildren.
  • Iowa: Raising Relatives’ Children
    This publication from the Iowa Foster & Adoptive Parent Association (IFAPA) was developed to assist Iowa kinship families considering an Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) placement of a child to work effectively with Iowa DHS and juvenile court. It includes information on family involvement with DHS and juvenile court, types of kinship care, and financial assistance and community resources, as well as questions to ask DHS when considering the placement of a child and question to ask the DHS social worker regarding long-term kinship placements. Additional information and suggestions are provided on the following issues: birth parent visits, talking with children about their birth parents, understanding caregiver feelings, understanding children’s issues, parenting and discipline, educational issues, transracial parenting, internet safety, preventing an abduction, children’s mental health services, mental health issues, and dealing with one’s own aging. A list of websites, books, and additional reading for relative caregivers is also provided.
  • Nevada: Raising Your Relative's Kids: How To Find Help 
    Sponsoring Organization: United States, Children's Bureau. By Kock, Jo Anne; Cox, Adrienne; Agao, Vicki. This informational guide from University of Nevada – Cooperative Extension was created with the assistance of caregivers and children in kinship families, social service agency heads and staff, educators, and residents concerned about the many families living in these not-so-unusual circumstances. It covers topics such as: Taking Care of You; Guardianship, Adoption & Related Legal Issues; Birth Certificates and Social Security Cards; Medical Insurance and Care; Education; Leisure Activities; Financial Assistance, Benefits, and Income Taxes; Housing; Child Care; Behavioral and Emotional Issues; Juvenile Court Services; Child Protective Services; Transportation; Family and Medical Leave Act; Youth Employment; Immigration Issues; and, Important Documents. (2009)
  • New York:
    • New York State Kinship Navigator
      This program offers a comprehensive information and referral network for caregivers to learn more about services and to obtain referrals to legal, financial, educational, health/mental health, support-group and housing resources in their area. Information provided includes answers to frequently asked questions; eligibility requirements for public assistance, tax credits and childcare; access to official records; facts sheets on laws; and forums for service providers.
    • Having a Voice & a Choice: New York State Handbook for Relatives Raising Children
      Developed by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) in partnership with the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), Having a Voice & a Choice: New York State Handbook for Relatives Raising Children was written for relatives who are raising, or considering raising, children in need of a stable home because their parents are unable to take care of them. The handbook discusses the various options available to relatives so they can make the best decisions for their own situations. Chapters cover topics such as how children come into the care of relatives, legal arrangements, financial support for nonparent caregivers and foster parents, health care and health insurance, and school-related issues. At the end is a list of websites and other resources. Also available in Spanish. (Last updated: December 2009)
    • Kinship Care in New York: A Five-Year Framework for Action
      In recognition of kincare needs, the New York State Kincare Coalition held its second statewide summit, “Kinship Care in New York: A Five-Year Framework for Action,” in November 2007. The Summit brought together experts from New York State and across the country. The recommendations in this 2008 Report are based upon the Summit participants’ suggestions, the speakers’ presentations, and upon an emerging consensus – shared by both policy makers and advocates – that kincare in an effective informal complement to the child welfare system. Summit participants agreed that assistance to kincaregivers is a means to an end – ensuring that children have stable and productive homelives. They also agreed that despite this worthy goal, laws and policies still do not adequately support kincare families. This report makes 19 recommendations focused on supporting the strengths of kinship families. The recommendations are coded to indicate type of action and a suggested time frame. (April 2008)
  • Virginia: Barriers to Kinship Care in Virginia
    During the 2010 General Assembly Session, the Virginia Commission on Youth was directed to conduct a study of barriers to kinship care in Virginia. The purpose of this study was to examine challenges which impact kinship care, including policies, training and funding. Commission staff also was directed to review Virginia’s barrier crime laws and to compare such laws to federal requirements in order to determine their impact on kinship care placements. This Final Report of The Virginia Commission on Youth to the Governor and the Virginia General Assembly details study findings and outlines recommendations for addressing barriers. (September 2011)
  • Washington: Kinship Navigator Pilot Project Replication Manual
    This manual from Casey Family Programs is intended to help service providers and policymakers use the lessons learned in the Kinship Navigator Pilot to expand and improve programs that support kinship caregivers of children and youth. The manual contents are based upon observations, interviews, and discussions with project staff, focus groups and surveys with kinship caregivers served by the pilot initiative. It provides a summary of the program’s background, philosophy and implementation steps offering a solid foundation for developing a Kinship Navigator program. (December 2005)

Digital Stories, Webinars, Webcasts, and Videos

  • Kinship Care Webinar – NASFCM Annual Meeting
    This free peer-to-peer webinar on kinship care was organized by the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections for the National Association of State Foster Care Managers as a part of the NASFCM Annual Meeting (which took place virtually this year). The webinar featured presentations on approaches to kinship care in Illinois and Florida. The Recruitment and Kin Connection Project (RKCP) is a Children’s Bureau 2010 diligent recruitment grantee project administered by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in Chicago, Illinois. RKCP embraces front-end family finding as an effective intervention strategy that contributes to building a life-long supportive network for children in care.  Locating family is essential and engaging family is crucial to their approach.  It is their belief that when family finding is executed with passion and a sense of urgency, it can reduce children’s time in care. Their presentation provided an overview of the Recruitment and Kin Connection Project, offered strategies for recruiting relatives and fictive kin, discussed concurrent planning, and reviewed RKCP evaluation information. Florida’s presentation focused on how to support kin and successfully keep children out of care, based on the approach of The Children’s Home in Tampa, Florida. The presenter identified key elements of a successful community model for relative caregivers and illustrated successful approaches to preventing disruption of relative placements and entries into care. Florida’s presentation helped participants to recognize the impact on your system of care of successful programming for relative caregivers. (October 30, 2013)

  • NRCPFC Digital Story: Benvanjae
    Through Benvanjae’s story, we learn about kinship care and adoption from the perspective of a grandmother dealing with the foster care system.
  • “We are Still a Family: Adults Caring for their Kin” and “My Special Family: Kids in the Care of their Kin” (Videos)
    In October 2003, an Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care grant through the Children’s Bureau was awarded to Clark County, Nevada as a five-year demonstration project. Clark County Department of Family Services had the goal of using a community-based Systems of Care (SOC) approach to improve the safety, permanency and well-being of children living with kin caregivers. Featured at the Children's Bureau P2P Conference in Washington, DC; this film, made by Clark County, features kinship providers and young people talking about their experiences in kin caregiving. Through their narratives, viewers gain a better understanding of the challenges and rewards involved in kinship caregiving. Utilizing the input provided by these and other caregivers and youth, Clark County was able to develop strategies about how to best work to support families and to address needs of kin as identified in Fostering Connections provisions. As a result, Clark County was able to build peer-staffed supportive programming around kinship care and improve their licensing efficiency for kinship providers. (2010)
  • NRCPFC Webcast: A Discussion about Kinship/Relative Care Practice
    In this webcast, Dr. Gerald P. Mallon, NRCPFC Executive Director, engaged in a conversation with one of the country’s leading experts in kinship/relative care – Dr. Joseph Crumbley. Dr. Crumbley brings decades of experience and expertise in the field of kinship/relative care. He has provided training and consultation nationally and internationally, and has consulted extensively with the Children’s Bureau’s T&TA Network and many other child welfare entities. He has additionally been a guest on the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), PBS, Geraldo, Montel Williams Show, and Nickelodeon, and consulted with 60 Minutes, The New York Times, and The Oprah Winfrey Show on the topics of transracial adoption and kinship care. This webcast, now archived on the NRCPFC website, features an informative and lively discussion about kinship care, relative placement, and transracial adoption. (May 2009)
  • Supporting Kinship Families: What State Policymakers Can Do
    This webcast from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, in partnership with Case Family Programs, brought together national experts and state officials to discuss the benefits that kinship care affords children as well as examples of how leaders in the states are supporting kinship families. (December 2007)


  • Child Welfare Information Gateway: Kinship Care
    Child Welfare Information Gateway's Kinship Care web section features resources on standards and protocols for managers, service providers, and families to support and promote permanency and positive outcomes. The web section includes the following sections: About kinship care; Impact and evaluation; Resources for managers of kinship care programs; Supporting kinship families; Locating and working with kinship caregivers; and, Achieving and maintaining permanency in kinship care.
  • AARP Grandparent Information Center
    The AARP GIC offers a website with lots of articles and message boards, booklets in English and Spanish, a free newsletter for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, information and referral to grandparent support groups and agencies, networking and assistance to local, state, and national organizations, research about grandparenting, support for AARP state offices that are working with grandparents at the local level, and advocacy for grandparents in collaboration with AARP's State Affairs and Legal Advocacy groups. Click here to go directly to the Family & Friends section of the website.
  • Brookdale Foundation Group
    The Brookdale Foundation Group works to advance the field of gerontology and improve the lives of senior citizens. Their Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP) provides support to grandparents assuming the primary caregiving roles.
  • Center for Law and Social Policy
    CLASP seeks to improve the lives of low-income people by developing and advocating for federal, state and local policies to strengthen families and create pathways to education and work. The CLASP website includes resources on kinship.
  • Children’s Defense Fund
    This portion of the Childrens Defense Fund website presents a number of useful publications on relative caregiving.
  • Child Welfare League of America
    This section of the CWLA website provides publications, facts and figures, and other information related to Kinship Care.
  • Generations United
    The mission of Generations United is to improve the lives of children, youth, and older people through intergeneration collaboration and policy development.
  • Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center
    This resource center is a collaboration between Casey Family Programs, The American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law, and Generations United. This resource center serves as a national legal resource created to educate individuals about state laws and legislation in support of grandfamilies and to assist interested state legislators, advocates, caregivers, attorneys, and other policymakers in exploring policy options to support relatives and the children in their care both within and outside the child welfare system. This resource center consists of: a searchable database of current laws and pending legisltation; topical analyses, which include summaries and comparisons of state laws, legislative trends, and practical advocacy and implementation information; powerful personal stories from grandfamilies; and other relevant internet resources. Additionally, the ABA and Generations United staff are available to provide technical assistance and training to state policymakers and advocates or other interested parties.
  • The Urban Institute 
    The Urban Institute has published a number of discussion papers and policy briefs on kinship care.


Last updated 10/31/13