Kinship Foster Care Pros and Cons

Kinship Foster Care

Today, children entering foster care are often placed in the homes of family members or family friends instead of traditional foster families. Is kinship foster care better than sending abused and neglected children to live with strangers?

Up until a few years ago, children who could not live safely with their birth parents mainly went to live in “stranger” foster care – the home of a person or people unknown to the child. Lately, the trend has turned to placing these children in kinship foster care – the home of a family member or family friend.  There are many reasons for this change.

Pros of Kinship Foster Care

Children Placed in Kinship Foster Care May Know (and Love) Their Caregiver

When children go into traditional foster care, there are new parents; new rules; new neighbors; often a new school; and sometimes, new siblings, if the foster parents have children of their own or other foster children in the home.  These changes, even when they are positive over time, are often traumatic for children in care.

Placement into kinship foster care can soften the blow for these already traumatized children. Whether it’s a beloved grandmother, a best friend’s parents, a caring teacher or even a distant cousin who believes in keeping the family together, the less disrupted the positive aspects of the child’s life can be, the better.

Kinship Foster Care Keeps a Child’s History Intact

When children enter foster care, they often lose everything they’ve ever known or loved. Depending on their age and situation, they may lose contact with other family members, including siblings.

It can be comforting for children to hear stories about their parents from someone who knows them. A grandmother may be able to reassure a child in care that his mother loves him, but is unable to take care of him, in a very real way.

Cons of Kinship Foster Care

Children Placed in Kinship Foster Care May Be More Likely to Have Unwelcome / Unauthorized Contact with Their Birth Parents

Imagine having to tell your daughter that she can’t see her own child, or that she is unwelcome in your home.  That’s what grandparents raising grandchildren often have to do.

Because of the emotional connection to the birth parent, kinship caregivers may have more difficulty in enforcing the child welfare designated rules about contact with the child than a traditional foster parent. To help them better prepare for these situations, grandparents raising grandchildren can take free foster parent training courses on issues in kinship care, which are offered for free in some states, like New Jersey.

Kinship Foster Care Givers May Not be Adequately Prepared to Deal with the Child’s Special Needs

Because they are abused and neglected, foster children often have special needs that kinship caregivers may not be aware of or understand.  In some cases, what grandparents or other kinship foster care givers may see as simply “bad behavior” may be physical or psychological issues that need to be addressed.

Luckily, there are resources that can help. There are a number of free foster parent training courses that kinship caregivers can take to help them overcome these challenges and assist the children in their home.

Kinship Foster Care Givers May be Unwilling / Unable to Comply with the Additional Demands of the Child Welfare System

When family members take in a child, they are expected to follow certain rules that may not have been issues for them when the child was living with his birth parents.  A swat on the bottom when a child goes to stick his finger in a socket, or even something as simple as giving the child a haircut, is now forbidden. Some family members may have difficulty accepting these restrictions.

Kinship care providers take children into their homes purely based on emotion; in most cases, they don’t have time to make the conscious decision to parent these children that foster parents do. There is still a need for traditional foster families, who will always be the safety net for abused and neglected children who have no relatives willing or able to take them in, or who need special medical attention that requires certification. But grandparents raising grandchildren and other kinship foster care providers can be a comfort to kids who have lost so much that was familiar and who long for roots and a place to call home.

Author: fafsblog

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

35 thoughts on “Kinship Foster Care Pros and Cons

  1. Thanks for this. It goes with what I have said needs to be done in ALL States for ALL families caring for children they did not give birth to. Kinship parents-particularly Grandparents need free and easy access to trainings in how to care for neglect/abuse traumatized children. Otherwise the struggle can be too much and placements can fail or they simply fail to provide the children with the best possible outcome. This training should not only be offered to potential Foster Kinship Parents but should be offered (if not mandated) for informal Kinship Parents as well. It is those informal (non-licensed) homes that the biggest potential for failure lies because they have no supportive services in place, and often become isolated. And, the problem of dealing with their own child who is the biological parent of the child they are now raising can become heart wrenching as well, particularly if there are no guidelines set by the court or child welfare system.

  2. As a 10-year kinship care provider, I can honestly say that kinship care is never what you signed up for. Especially when the child’s parent’s are involved. Parent’s who are very sensitive to the situation and more than likely related to you. Kinship care providers not only require the services given to foster parents, but also need guidance on how to deal with the family dynamics as well.

  3. We are well over 2 1/2 years caring for our granddaughters. To us, most shocking, is that Kin/Grandparents have no rights. We are looked at/treated as foster parents, and that’s it. It has been has a beautiful (raising our granddaughter since 2 months old, and a horror with the rest.

  4. Help!!!!! My niece and nephews are in foster care and I went through all the formalities to get them from out of foster care, being though I’m the only family member who can take them. The system accepted all my paperwork and I have been told that the children do not want to leave the foster parents care. What can I do….. Since the foster care parents have no court order to keep bio family from the children. They will not the BIO family see the children at all. What should my next move be. I’m considering litigation to get my BIO family members.

    1. Hi Charlene, Please email us at and let us know your location. If you are in NJ, we will be able to assist you. If you’re not in New Jersey, we can offer limited assistance but will do what we can to connect you with an agency or nonprofit in your state that can help.

  5. I am a foster parent of my biological grand daughter. However it wasn’t done as kinship. Just foster, the other grandmother is giving me a very hard time. Calling making subtle threats , screaming on voice-mail etc. What can I do ?

    1. Hi Tams,

      Our advocates urge you to notify your caseworker about the threats being made by the other grandmother. You can also contact your local police department to file a complaint and obtain a temporary restraining order. If there is anything we can do for you, please don’t hesitate to call us at 609.520.1500.

  6. In the state of North Carolina can I claim a child on my taxes if we have kinship custody that was placed by our county social services and had the child over 8 months.

  7. My cousin and his partner just had their 4thr child taken from them yesterday morning. She is a newborn and my husband and I want to be concidered in her permanent placement/adoption. The last one was a newborn as well and we only heard through rumors that she was removed from them and no family was asked to take her that We are aware of. She went to a foster family. This newest baby is in Washington and we live Two hours from her in Oregon. Can you give us any advice or help in knowing how to and who to talk to?

    1. It can be very stressful knowing that a family member is involved with Child Protection Services. If the child is in Washington State, you should contact Washington State Department of Social and Human Services. The links below will lead you to their website. If you are aware of the county the child is in, you can use the bottom link to search for the direct office that should have the child’s case. You will also need to know the biological parents names in order to find the appropriate caseworker for the child.

  8. I have a 1 year old grandchild that I have been raising for one year the mother is in prison and the father is my son that lives here often on and maybe going to prison too I want to make sure my grandchild is well taken care of I would like to continue to care for him but financially we are on a set income also I would like both parents to have to go to court and make sure they do what they got to do so the baby is well taken care of if they take him out of my home also I would like to have visitation weekends holidays stays in the summer if they do take him.. the mother is a from originally from Arizona and I’m from Iowa so this may become a problem the other grandmother is upset with me but I was told he could not leave Iowa I do not want no problems I just want my grandson to be well taken care of. both the parents of the baby are not capable of keeping care of they are both using drugs no jobs no homes of Their Own and in trouble with the law of course the mother dose not like like me. And won’t sign over and my son of course dose not like the mothers mother … Us grandparents dose not know each other well we been texing and visited once…. We both agree on the kids can’t keep care of the child… I have taken the repext care class… What else can I do to keep him with us some financial help and not let him go to Arizona only if the other grandmother mother will agree to bring him back so it’s court ordered and also the kids have to go through treatment and go to the courts to get him back and I can still have this atation when they get their life in order can you help me need help fast don’t have much money to work with thanks do you have a phone number I can call

    1. Caring for grandchildren can be challenging especially when other grandparents reside in other states. If your grandchild has been in your care for a year, it would seem unlikely that the child would be moved from your care. If you are concerned about the child being moved it is best to discuss this concern with the child’s direct caseworker. As for financial assistance, if the child is placed through Iowa Child Protection Services, kinship families such as yourself are eligible for financial assistance through the state. If you are not receiving this assistance you would also need reach out and discuss with your caseworker. Iowa also has Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parents Association which provided further information regarding financial assistance for kinship families.

  9. My parents are being assessed for kindship can I still fighting to have my children returned to my care and what are legal requirements and time frame for this

    1. While your children are in the custody and care of a Child Protection Agency, you can still have your children reunified with you even when they are in a kinship placement. To do this, you must comply with the Child Protection Agency. You can hire an attorney to assist you or be assigned a public defender if you wish. Every case is different and every states policy regarding child protection is different so timelines also depend on the state you reside in. However, as per US Federal Law, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 requires that States move towards termination of parental rights for children who have been in foster care for 15 out of 22 months. There are acceptations to this requirement and attorneys and court process can delay this timeline greatly. With this federal guideline it is also important to keep in mind that the clock of 15 out of 22 months does not stop. Therefore, if your children were removed from your care prior for 10 months and then removed again this federal timeline technically does not stop but again areas such as court can delay the process.

  10. I am a kinship foster parent of 4 girls we had them for over a year now . I live in Arizona. The state is now severing the birth parents right so when this is finalized we will probably adopt them. My question is that do we get any kind of funding from the state. I don’t know how we will be able to do this without it. Thx.

    1. Hi Shannon,

      Thank you for reaching out to Foster and Adoptive Family Services. Each state varies with their requirements for when children qualify for adoption subsidies. Subsidies are typically talked about in two main forms, maintenance payments (financial) and health care. Subsidy may also cover special services and reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses. Arizona does have a publication that talks about subsidy. The second page also lists adoption subsidy specialists contact information for specific questions. You can find this publication at this link:

      The children will also have an adoption worker once rights are terminated, if one has not already been assigned. Again, each state varies in how this is completed. For example, in New Jersey, once a case is looking like it is headed for termination the case will be transferred to an adoption worker who is also a state employee. I know other states still utilize private contracted adoption agencies and the children’s state caseworker will remain active on the case until the adoption is finalized. The way that Arizona handles this can be answered by the children’s caseworker. The adoption worker will be the person that completes the adoption subsidy. You can ask in advance if it is likely that subsidy will be approved and if the criteria have changed from this publication I provided.

      I hope this information is helpful!

      Lenore Bonilla
      FAFS Family Advocate

  11. Lloyd you’ll never hear a story like this. We are kinship grandparents our daughters man went nuts Police by suicide ak47 on police department. Normal we thought he was hard worker no education Cheating on my daughter with best friend neighbor. After being ran out of a small town 5 months later we brought them home. Mom is on herion and stole all my wife’s jewelry. We had her removed from our house. Grandaughs are 13 and 9. She OD and the 9 year old came for help. OD again in dhs methadone program has warrants and girls were tought nothing about life. All 4 are mentally ill all symptoms 0f depression with doctors. Im ashamed of what happened they seem to egnore grandpop who has done all the therpay. Both grandaughs have stolen lied one phycristist wants on meds right away and in boarding home during the week home on the weekend. If we say no sleep over she calls her mom while were all sleeping and next day 9 year old will tell me. 9 year old cries all the time if she dont get her way. 12 year old in a year we talked 3 whole hours. There are two investigateshion going on in 1 week 10 false reports from their dads side who dose not care about girls. We raised two families of children and they turned out good our daughter will be in jail in20 days for 6 months to 5 years we will lose our grand children because of there parents genes or what a fight. To help them wife and i disable. Need good advice philadelphia

    1. Hi Kristy,

      Thanks for reaching out to us – it sounds like you have a lot going on at the moment. There are a number of resources and support organizations in the Philadelphia area that might be useful for you, which I’ve listed below:

      Philadelphia Department of Human Services Resource Parent Handbook ( This contains a lot of information about the role of kinship caregivers, the responsibilities of the Child Welfare System, and how to go about meeting the day-to-day needs of the children in your home.

      Kinship Care in Pennsylvania: Support for Families with Grandparents and Other Kin Raising Children ( – This is another useful resource, which contains a lot of information about Kinship Care issues, support groups and programs, legal issues and where to find help when you need it (including free statewide assistance phone numbers).

      Kinship Caregiver Assistance Network ( – This program is run by the Senior Law Center, and focuses on addressing the needs of grandparents who are raising relative children. They can assist with direct legal representation, counseling and advocacy services on custody, support, visitation, and a range of other issues. They also provide community-based workshops and seminars, and referrals to other services and information as needed.

      GrandFamily Resource Center ( – This organization assists grandparent caregivers through weekly support groups, family wellness workshops, outreach and advocacy, counseling, information and referrals.

      Grands as Parents (GAPS) ( – This is a support group for grandparents raising grandchildren, which provides a space for grandparents to share common experiences, learn new skills, advocate for grandparents’ rights, make friends and reduce stress.

      Grandma’s Kids ( – This program provides after school services aimed at helping children to resist substance abuse and violence, and providing support with homework and social/emotional skills.

      You can also dial 2-1-1 at any time to get free, confidential information and referrals for local services and programs.

      I hope this helps.

      Collie Crisman
      FAFS Family Advocate

  12. I live in los angeles county.
    My childrens school contacted cpsd for tardies they did home search found cluttered I was told to clean. They promised me the kids would remain with me. Cleaning was slow Iam very ill and was hospitalized for 14 days. They took my babies away anyway.Tell me what to do now?

    1. Hello Jennifer,

      Thank you for reaching out to Foster and Adoptive Family Services. I am sorry to hear about the unfortunate events and removal of your children. When DCFS steps in and removes children they have found sufficient evidence of abuse and neglect or an imminent risk of abuse or neglect. Without knowing details of your situation, the best advice I can give is to maintain contact with the CPS worker or foster care caseworker that has been assigned. Their primary job is to keep children safe and get you services you need to be the best possible parent. The caseworker will be developing a case service plan with you that will address your strengths as well as areas that need improvement. With this will be the expectations that need to be met to have your children returned to your care. When children are removed, the courts are typically involved in this process as well. Again, make sure to maintain frequent contact with your assigned caseworker in regards to your service

      Here is a list of local offices for Los Angeles County DCFS:
      I also found another link of resources that may be helpful to you:

      I hope this information is helpful to you!

      Lenore Bonilla
      FAFS Family Advocate

      1. I have a question I have a friend who lives in Az and and I live in mo and her kids were put into foster care with her mother i law not a good place and here’s the question if she were to ask if I could take kinship of her children do u think that would be possible?

  13. Can someone explain to me the reason the subsidy payments change from Foster care amount to PCA/PMC amount? WE have had CPS custody of our niece & nephew since 9-15. We became licensed Foster parents in 12-16 because we were told that’s what we had to do to be able to keep the children and their benefits. PMC is scheduled to be granted to us in July of this year. Once that is granted, we will only receive 400.00/month or approx 13.00/day. Who can take care of a teenager on 13.00 a day. School lunches are 6.00/day. I just can’t understand the reasoning behind the change in payment amount…I was told by the case worker that basically it’s because we are family and are EXPECTED to do it!!

    1. NJ Resource Parents receive a monthly board reimbursement or subsidy for each child placed in their home. This is also referred to in NJ as a board rate. Subsidy covers the child’s living expenses, such as food, shelter, personal allowance, general recreation activities, and cultural activities. NJ Division of Child Protection and Permanency determines the appropriate board rate by meeting with the resource parent, caseworker and CP&P nurse to participate in a Resource Family Care Rate Assessment, which reviews the circumstances of every child placed with a family. The initial review takes place at the time, or within 30 days, of placement. Based on guidelines, the appropriate rate for each child is determined. The caseworker then submits this rate for approval.

      The child’s age and level of care are assessed by the Resource Family Care Rate Assessment. As a child in care ages in NJ, the rate is increased. The rate is also increased if a child has medical and/or other special needs. When a rate is established, the rate is reassessed every 3 months by the caseworker as per CP&P policy.

      To see NJ rates for children in care, you can visit our website at for more information.

      Every state works differently in regards to subsidies for children in care. Some states provide kinship families with subsidies while others do not. Some provide higher rates while others do not. It truly depends on the state you reside in that will reflect the subsidy the children will receive. Due to the amount you are receiving, I would suggest researching your states policy in regards to subsidies to ensure that you are receiving an accurate rate. You can also request a meeting with your caseworker and their supervisor to discuss your rate and ways you may be eligible to increase this rate for the children.

  14. Hi, my husband and I live in AZ and are kinship care for his sister’s baby. We got her very unexpectedly and very quickly when she was 11 mos old. We have had her 7 months today. Her mom and mom’s bf did so much meth around baby that at 11 months the baby herself tested as a “Daily User” through a hair folicle test. Meth was even found in baby’s wooden box sleeping area. We got baby through the awful withdrawals, all doctor appointments, tons of ‘service providers’, DCS home visits, did all the fingerprinting, background checks and interviews – our lives were turned upside down. We have completed half of the foster licensing classes and hit burnou a couple of weeks ago and something had to give. Every day it is 1, 2 or 3 things we haVE to do for baby, besides just care for her. I’m a homeschool mom and my husband works two jobs. Work/life/baby balance has been off balance for months. We were told by DCS worker when baby was placed with us that since baby is under two that permanancy would be decided within 6 months. Baby’s mom didn’t get started on her case plan for months and lied about the paterninty of baby. We got paternity straightened out – bio dad is bio mom’s ex-husband. He wants nothing to do with baby and told the court he would like baby to stay with us. Every time we have contact with baby’s DCS worker or her attorney or her service roviders we have been asked if we would be permanent. We had always said yes, as a last option (if bio mom or dad ciuldn’t/wouldn’t parent). But the case is dragging out and family dynamics and burnout hit us pretty hard. Being accused of trying to steal the baby from his sister is very upsetting to my husband. Bio mom does her visits twice a week (about all she does) but it is a 2 hour drive each way, so she blames this on why she can’t meet her other case plan requirements. She is very close to having the case plan change to severance/adoption due to failed drug tests and not attending therapy/counseling, but mainly b/c she is still living with bf who is a known drug abuser and is not doing any services as he was dropped from the case when paternity proved him t not be baby’s bio father. Baby’s attorney and DCS say she will have to choose bf or baby.
    My husband called baby’s DCS worker to have baby moved to foster care close to bio mom (his sister) so that she has every chance to meet her obligations to get baby back (less drive time, hopefully more incentive to do services) and to give us some time and to process the huge decision of adoption and the impact on our lives. Caseworker asked us is we could wait a few weeks so he could find the best licensed foster placement for baby. We of course said yes. We love her, but family dynamics and stress are big right now. We still have baby.
    We want bio mom to have every opportunity to get baby back, but if she doesn’t, we want to have the chance to adopt her (free of DCS, appointments, classes, in-home visits, etc.) The baby is not the stressor, it is all the red tape that comes with her that leaves us exhausted and discouraged. We had no idea at the begining when we had just a few minutes to decide to take her in just how invasive and time-comsuming it would be.
    1. How long does the process of “termination/adoption” take in AZ until adoption can take place?
    2. If we disrupt the placement, and if mom’s rights do eventually get terminated, will we still be able to adopt baby?
    Thank you for reading all this. God bless!

    1. It can be very challenging when you are caring for a relative while also dealing with Child Protection Services, custody and court matters no matter which state you reside in. Each state has their own polices and practices that they follow; however as per US Federal Law, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 requires that states move towards termination of parental rights for children who have been in foster care for 15 out of 22 months. There are exceptions to this requirement and attorneys and court processes can delay or advance this timeline. Since the biological mother is not complying with Child Protection Services and if she continues to be non-compliant, usually this process will be expedited as the state’s Child Protection Services have you noted as a potential for adoption.

      Having a child moved from your home to another does open the possibility that Child Protection Services will look at other potential adoptive family. This may occur if the child is placed into a home that is an adoptive home and the child remains there for an extended amount of time. Also, each time a child is moved trauma is caused to the child and bonding becomes more challenging. If the child moves to a new placement and a bond is developed it can be argued that the child must remain with this family. However, it can also be argued that the child best interest is with kin, which states will always attempt to place children with kin when able. This situation is a tough. You should set a meeting with the child’s caseworker, supervisor, and possibly their supervisor as well as the child’s attorney to discuss your concerns as well as the best plan for the child. Whenever having a meeting or discussion it is a good idea to send all parties a follow up email as this will provide written documentation for everyone. You should always be able to send emails and letters to create your own documentation.

  15. My husband and I are in the process of trying to get two of my cousins kids. They are in Georgia and we are in North Carolina. They have been in foster care for two years. What happens if we are to get them with the mom? She is telling other family members after Thirty days the case will be closed once they are with us and she can get them back? Is that true? Also the oldest child is really giving us a hard time. She doesn’t want to leave Georgia because she will be 18 next year ans will age out but the youngest is only 9 and will have to remain in foster care if we don’t get them. The oldest have also been leaving very bad messages on our voicemail. what should we do about that. We were approved in Georgia we are now just waiting on the NC Social Worker to come out to do a home visit. We are really trying to help because none of our family is in Georgia. We all live in North Carolina but all of this makes me worry if we are doing the right thing.

    1. We know it can be very challenging when a situation arises where a family is out of state from the children that are in care. States usually seek to place a child or children with kin whenever possible; however there can be areas that can make this challenging. If the goal is to have the children enter your home, Georgia Child Protective Services should be moving towards your family as a final permanency plan. If you are adopting the children once they are with you, then the case would close after adoption occurs. Usually, this does not happen right away as Child Protective Services will still need to ensure that the children are doing well in your care prior to the case closing. If you adopt the children, they are legally viewed as your children and the biological mother will have no legal rights to the children.

      If you don’t adopt but instead obtain Kinship Legal Guardianship (KLG), the biological mother would still have rights. However, they would be limited. Our Keeping You Informed Bulletin regarding KLG in New Jersey may be of assistance but please be sure to see how KLG works in your state.

      It is unlikely that the biological mother will obtain her children after they are placed with you although every case is unique and different. You should maintain regular contact with the children’s caseworkers in Georgia to ensure they are aware of your concerns.

      Since the eldest child is 17, she is able to advocate and voice her concerns about leaving Georgia. Her caseworkers, law guardian and judge should be taking her concerns into consideration to ensure she has the best plan for her future. It is possible that her younger sibling would enter your home while she remains in Georgia with a separate and different permanency plan. Due to this and the voicemails she is leaving you, it is very important you stay in regular contact with the children’s caseworker in order to share these concerns as they will be better able to advise you.

      Caring for children in care can be very difficult because nothing is guaranteed and everything is on a case-by-case basis. Ensuring that you have regular contact with all parties involved will help you during this challenging process.

  16. I live in Illinois and have had my niece and nephew for 17 months. At the end of this month, CFYS is placing them with Bio dad because Mom had been deemed unfit. He is an alcoholic who lied on his assessment (3 dui’s and no license) and lives with 2 guy roommates. I am heartbroken

  17. We have my now 2 yr old great nephew has living with us since he was 6 weeks old through voluntary informal kinship care. He has an airway disorder which has included countless specialty appointments, hospital stays, ambulance rides, & a scope to look at his airways. Bio Mom has attended 1 appointment due to her mother’s insistence and bio dad has not attended any. They only visit on holidays or an occasional family dinner again with her mother’s insistence. We go months without hearing from them not even so much as a text to see how he’s doing. I am so scared they are going to come in one day and try to take him from us. We have contacted a lawyer, but we are still scared a judge will rule in their favor…it will hurt us, but I am so scared for his health and safety. Any insight into this would so greatly be appreciated.

    1. Hi Kara,

      Thanks for reaching out to us. It sounds like this is an informal placement, and that you may have a temporary arrangement through the family courts, or no formal, legal arrangement in place at this point. With private arrangements, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (or your state’s equivalent, if you live outside of New Jersey) often aren’t involved, and so support is usually more limited. If the Division is involved, and your great nephew has a caseworker, I’d suggest you speak with the caseworker to express your concerns, and to establish what their plans are moving forward. If not, it might be worth contacting your local family court for advice.

      I’d recommend that you document any concerns you that you have, and if you are in New Jersey, you could also contact Legal Services of New Jersey at 1-888-576-5529 for further guidance. If you’re not currently residing in New Jersey, I’d recommend that you research community agencies in your area that might be able to provide additional support.

      If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to me at (609)520-1500, Ext. 305, or at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *