Kinship Care

Kinship care is the full-time care, nurturing, and protection of a child by someone other than a parent who is related to the child by family ties or by a significant prior relationship (e.g., aunts, uncles, grandparents, older siblings, or close family friends). In most countries, care in extended family is the most long-standing and culturally acceptable form of alternative family care.

Kinship care can be permanent or temporary (for example, when a child is waiting to be reunited with his or her parents). It can be arranged formally through a judicial authority, or informally through an agreement between the family and child. Because caring for a child may put additional strain on relatives and aging grandparents already impacted by poverty or other issues, family-strengthening services and follow-up support are often needed. This may be provided by individualized case management and referred services, or in less formal situations, through the local church or community service providers.

When reuniting a child with his or her birth family or extended family is determined to be unsafe or not in the best interests of a child, foster care or adoption may be considered. 

Kinship Care: Providing Positive and Safe Care for Children Living Away from Home Briefing paper on the global characteristics of kinship care, the required policy and legislative framework, and the role of practitioners in assessing, supporting, and monitoring kinship care. (Save the Children Fund)

Family First: Prioritizing Support to Kinship Carers, Especially Older Carers Gives guidance on the most effective means for supporting kinship carers and the children in their care, and suggests that greater collaboration is needed between agencies striving to achieve child rights and those working on greater protection of older people’s rights. (EveryChild and Help Age International)

A Sense of Belonging: Understanding and Improving Informal Alternative Care Mechanisms to Increase the Care and Protection of Children with a Focus on Kinship Care in East Africa Reviews legal frameworks for kinship care in East Africa, discusses the cultural factors and practices of kinship care, presents perceptions from children in care, and, finally, includes a good section on what supports are needed by kinship care providers. (Save the Children)

Myanmar Kinship Care Handbook Provides guidance, primarily for staff, NGO partners, community child protection groups, and community volunteers in Myanmar (although it may be useful for people in other contexts) in protecting the welfare of children living with extended family members. (Save the Children)


We All Need Families at the End of the Day – Maureen Tells the story of a young girl who was separated from her family and sent to live in a children’s home, and her desire to reunite with her grandparents. Features interviews with experts, including those who have lived in children’s homes, and highlights the efforts of care reform initiatives to deinstitutionalize children in Kenya. (Better Care Network)

Alternative Care: An Animated Film Highlights Suman’s story of the time his mother sends him to a child care home due to difficult circumstances at home, raises the question of whether this was the best option for him, and encourages kinship care or care with another family within the same community. Audio is Nepali with English subtitles. (Save the Children)

Family Group Conference – a child’s perspective Tells the story through the perspective of a young girl who benefits from a Family Group Conference (FGC). FGC is a mediated meeting between family members and child protection professionals that can serve as an important tool to improve the care and protection of children at risk of separation from family care. (Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs)