Chapter

Comparative Safety, Stability, and Continuity of Children’s Placements in Formal and Informal Substitute Care

Mark Testa, Christina M. Bruhn and Jesse Helton

in Child Welfare and Child Well-Being

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780195398465
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199863426 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195398465.003.0006
Comparative Safety, Stability, and Continuity of Children’s Placements in Formal and Informal Substitute Care

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This chapter examines the growing use of kinship care as a placement option for children who must be removed from their homes of origin. It highlights the tensions between the recruitment of blood relatives and the selection of trained, licensed foster parents as agents of children's well-being. Although in principle, relatives can serve as licensed foster parents, in practice, state licensing requirements may disqualify blood kin because of, for example, cramped housing quarters, lack of a telephone, or past arrests. The important question is whether kin should still be privileged under federal law for public assistance and foster care benefits if they are unable to meet state foster home licensing standards. Drawing on NSCAW data, the chapter estimates the mean differences in some key indicators of bonding and bridging social capital across placement settings. It models the effects of these indicators and other demographic and economic characteristics on the outcomes of continuity, stability, and safety. It suggests that, with respect to these traditional child welfare outcomes, both formal and informal kinship care offer some advantages, while carrying no appreciably greater safety risks than foster family care.

Keywords: NSCAW; kinship care; child welfare; child care; foster care

Chapter.  13703 words.  Illustrated.

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