Kinship Care As a Mental Health Intervention for African-American Families

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Abstract

The literature presents kinship care in three interrelated ways: as an informal caregiving tradition in some minority communities, especially in the African-American community; as a child welfare service; and as an intergenerational parenting context with distinct family dynamics. Kinship care is defined as the caregiving of dependent children by a relative or close family friend when the biological parents are unavailable, unable, or unwilling to care for the child(ren) (Child Welfare League of American [CWLA], 1994). In the African-American community, kinship has traditional roots in slavery, in which children were taken into the homes of relatives and friends when their biological parents were sold. Contemporarily, the phrase kinship care emerges from the work of Stack (1974), who found that in an AfricanAmerican community, the extended family network is an important social support strategy. Kinship care also has moved from a traditional informal caregiving arrangement in the African-American community to a formal child welfare service. There are two types of kinship care arrangements: informal, which is an agreement among family members, and formal, which is facilitated in the child welfare system. Currently, a subsystem of formal service, kinship foster care, has evolved, in which children live with relatives and are under the jurisdiction of the child welfare system. Foster kinship care is the fastest growing out-of-home living arrangement. It is difficult to assess the prevalence of informal kinship care arrangements, but it is assumed to exceed formal kinship care arrangements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMental Health Care in the African-American Community
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages265-282
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781136429965
ISBN (Print)9780789026118
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2007 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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