On March 29th, 2023, the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) published a new brief highlighting information from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, Second Cohort (NSCAW II) on service needs and receipt for children in kinship care and non-relative foster care in 2008 and 2009.

OPRE sought to answer the following four research questions:

  • Do children in kinship care need different services from children in nonrelative foster care?
  • Are there differences in poverty level and financial struggles among voluntary kinship caregivers, formal kinship caregivers, and nonrelative foster caregivers?
  • Does type of support received (i.e., financial support, housing, peer support, respite care, foster care training, and health care) differ among voluntary kinship caregivers compared to formal kinship caregivers and nonrelative foster caregivers?
  • Are there differences in access to basic health-related services between children in voluntary kinship care, formal kinship care, and nonrelative foster care?

OPRE concluded that there is a need to help kinship caregivers, especially voluntary kinship caregivers, navigate multiple human service systems to access the supports that they need. Voluntary kinship care is defined as: “the child is living with kin, no payments are received from CWS for the care of the child, and the caregiver does not have a license or certificate to provide foster care.” Programs like Kinship Navigators help caregivers navigate services in the community; Congress has provided additional discretionary funding in Title IV-B to support Kinship Navigator programs for the last several years.

Some of the highlighted findings from the briefing include large differences in service needs and receipt of services by kinship and nonrelative foster caregivers and that voluntary kinship caregivers were more likely to live in households with incomes less than 50% of the federal poverty level and are more likely to struggle financially.