When a child must be removed from the family home, placement with a relative is often sought because kinship care is the least restrictive and most family-like out-of-home placement. Although kinship care has become a preferred option in most U.S. child welfare systems, this preference is often based on "soft evidence" rather than rigorous evaluation of the risks and benefits of kinship care. Therefore, an evaluation of the impact of kinship care on child behavioral problems is needed to guide child welfare practice and policy. In addition, given that children of different ages and in different developmental stages are likely to have varying placement experiences, the evaluation of kinship care should explore the effect of kinship care on child behavioral problems across age groups. To fill these knowledge gaps, we compare the behavioral problems of 584 children in kinship care with those of 470 children in non-kinship care. Moreover, we examine the impact of kinship care on behavioral problems in 2 age groups: younger children (0 to 5. years) and older children (6 to 17.5. years). The analysis uses data from Waves 1 and 2 of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Wellbeing, and applies propensity score methods to account for selection bias. Results show that older children in kinship care had significant lower levels of externalizing, internalizing, and total behavior problems. However, for younger children, the effects of kinship care on child behavioral problems did not reach statistical significance. The implications for practice, research and policy are discussed.
- Child behavioral problems
- Different age groups
- Kinship care
- Non-kinship care
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science