Policy Priorities

Policy Priorities image of kids

Kinship Care

“Kinship care families” and “GrandFamilies” are used to describe grandparents or other relatives raising their grandchildren or other kin when their parents are unable to do so. Sometimes a child is removed from his parents’ care by the state and placed with relatives in foster care. In other cases, children are placed informally with relatives outside of foster care.

More than 6 million children are being raised in households headed by grandparents and other relatives. Of those 6 million children, 2.5 million children are living in households without any parents present. These relative caregivers are willing to care for the children, but may need financial or other help to appropriately meet the children’s needs.

A number of states have used subsidized guardianship programs to support kinship families and GrandFamilies. Kinship care has been found to help children maintain family, and oftentimes community, connections. There is also strong evidence that children placed in kinship care experience greater stability, have fewer behavioral problems, and are just as safe-if not safer-than children in non-relative care.

The Children’s Defense Fund is working to ensure implementation of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. This act requires that adult relatives be identified and notified when children are removed from the custody of their parents. It offers new federal support to many children who are being raised by grandparents or other relatives in foster care who want to care for them permanently as guardians.