Examining the kinship care experience: the impact of social support and family resources on caregiver health, family involvement with the child welfare system, and permanence for children Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Littlewood, Kerry Anne
    • Affiliation: School of Social Work
  • This study had two purposes: (1) to describe the quality of the kinship caregiving experience for kinship caregivers and (2) to assess whether social support and family resource needs impact the health of kinship caregivers, family involvement in the child welfare system, and permanence for children living in kinship care. In the first part, semi structured interviews were used to examine the caregiving experiences of fifteen grandmothers raising grandchildren in Pinellas County, Florida. Overall, the qualitative results shed some light on what it is like to be a relative caregiver. Most caregiving took place out of obligation, not by choice or by an explicit decision. In light of all the stressors in their lives, the caregivers in the study found much solace in their involvement with a community program. Three case studies were used to provide examples of different experiences with caregiving. The second part of the study used a correlational one-group posttest only design. All caregivers (N=175) enrolled in programs offered by a consortium of non-profit community organizations completed the Family Support Scale (FSS), Family Resource Scale (FRS), and General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-SF12). Hierarchical linear regression was used to estimate the relation of social support and family resources to the health of the caregiver, child welfare involvement, and permanence of child placement. Family resource needs predicted physical health, mental health and permanency. Social support predicted physical, but not mental health. None of the study variables predicted the family's involvement with the child welfare system. A further exploration into the permanency variable revealed that African American caregivers cared for children for longer periods than other ethnic groups, on average about 15 months more. Additionally, caregivers who had basic resource unmet needs took care of children for 19 months longer than those whose needs were better met. These data suggest that physical and psychological wellbeing of informal caregivers is at risk due to the needs and demands associated with caregiving and that better outcomes for children may result from more intense efforts to identify and address the resource needs of grandparents and other relatives raising children.
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  • In Copyright
  • Barbarin, Oscar A.
  • Open access

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