Until recently, when children could not live safely with their biological parents they went to live in foster care with strangers. The trend lately is to place these children in the home of a family member or family friend, known as kinship foster care.
Are abused and neglected children better off in kinship foster care than living with strangers?
Pros of Kinship Foster Care
The Caregiver of Children Placed in Kinship Foster Care May be Known and Loved
Going into traditional foster care the children experience many changes. There are new parents, new rules, a new school, and possibly new siblings if there are already other children in the home. These changes are often traumatic for children in care even though over time they prove positive.
Kinship foster care can be easier to accept for children who are already traumatized. It may be a much-loved grandmother, a best friend’s parents, or a caring teacher.
Kinship Foster Care Maintains a Child’s History
Children often lose everything they have known or loved when they enter foster care, they may even lose contact with siblings and other family members.
To be able to hear stories about their parents from someone who knows them can be comforting to children. A child in care can be reassured by a grandmother that his mother loves him but is just unable to take care of him right now.
Cons of Kinship Foster Care
It May be More Likely for Children in Kinship Foster Care to Have Unwelcome / Unauthorized Contact with Their Birth Parents
Kinship caregivers may find it difficult to enforce the child welfare designated rules about contact with the child, because of the emotional connection to the birth parent. Think about how hard it must be to tell your daughter she is unwelcome in your home and that she can’t see her own child.
Free foster parent training courses on issues in kinship care are made available to help grandparents to be better prepared for these situations.
Kinship Foster Caregivers May Not be Sufficiently Prepared to Deal with the Child’s Special Needs
Foster children often have special needs, because they are abused and neglected, that kinship caregivers may not understand or even be aware of, such as physical or psychological issues that need attention.
In most cases kinship care providers don’t have time to make the conscious decision to parent these children, they take them into their home based purely on emotion. There will always be a need for traditional foster families to be the safety net for abused and neglected children who have no relatives able to take them in, or who need special medical attention. But kids who have lost so much that was familiar can find comfort in being raised by a grandmother or other kinship foster care providers.
At Kids First, we’re experts in helping families care for their own in kinship foster care. We want to help make your family whole. Contact us today and let’s work together.