Kinship care includes care by aunts, uncles, grandparents, older siblings, and other extended family members. The vast majority of children living outside parental care live with their relatives and extended family members. Kinship care can be temporary or permanent. It may be formal, meaning that it is arranged through social services or judicial authority, but is more commonly informal in nature—often a matter of parents reaching out to relatives and relatives stepping up to care for their loved ones.
For families at risk of separation, efforts to identify kinship care options ahead of time can help ensure that family ties and care are sustained and protected. Sadly and too often, children are placed in orphanages for long periods of time without any effort to determine if they have extended family members who may be willing and able to care for them.
Kinship care offers the benefits of a family environment and prevents a child from losing his or her culture, and, most importantly, provides a sense of belonging and family ties. For these reasons, kinship care is often preferred by children over all other types of alternative care. Because caring for a child may put additional strain on relatives and aging grandparents already impacted by poverty or other issues, family members providing kinship care can benefit from family support services and case management to ensure successful placement.