Spotlight on Supporting Kinship Caregivers

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Spotlight On...

Supporting Kinship Caregivers


Kinship caregivers are relatives or non-kin with close, family-like relationships who take on the role of primary caregiver when children cannot safely remain with their parents. Why is finding, recruiting, supporting, and retaining kinship caregivers so important? Compared to children and youth in general foster care, those who live with kinship caregivers experience more stability with fewer disruptions; have better well-being, mental health, and behavioral health; feel more connected to siblings and community; and have higher rates of legal permanency.[1]

Kinship care families need the same level of resource and financial support, trauma training, and guidance from child welfare agencies that non-relative foster parents receive, and sometimes more. Although they are more likely to be economically disadvantaged, single, older, and less educated, fewer than half of kinship caregivers receive the benefits they may qualify for, like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and childcare or housing assistance.[2]

When kinship caregivers are first tapped to provide a home for youth or children, agencies should provide guidance to help them navigate the child welfare system and connect them to needed resources and financial support. To help them parent children who have experienced trauma and to navigate complex relationships with the parents, kinship caregivers may need training and emotional support, and family needs will evolve over time.[3] With improved ongoing support, kinship caregivers not only provide a more stable home for their kin but may also decide to become a foster parent for other children. 


  • In states where Guardianship Assistance Programs (GAP) payments were equitable with regular foster care maintenance payments, without any additional interventions, placements with guardians doubled or tripled.[4]
  • Results from CFSR Round 3 showed that when a child was placed with a relative, the child’s placement was assessed to be appropriate and stable in 93 percent of cases reviewed.[5]
  • Kinship navigator programs increase relative caregivers’ ability to meet the immediate needs of their families, from baseline to after case closure for basic needs (like paying utility bills, childcare, and car seats), and over half of caregivers choose to participate in peer support groups.[6]


Child welfare agencies continue to use a kin-first approach, prioritizing the use of kinship caregivers when children and youth cannot safely remain with their parents. Agencies can use the resources below to learn about how they can better find, recruit, support, and maintain kinship caregivers. For example, agencies can use resources in Becoming a Family-Focused System and It’s All Relative: Supporting Kinship Care Discussion Guides and Video Series to assess agency culture and create a more supportive environment that responds to kinship caregivers’ needs. 

The Capacity Building Center for States has several resources to help agencies build capacity for supporting kinship caregivers: 

Publications and Resources

Peer Support

  • Kinship Navigators Peer Group promotes kinship family support services and peer-to-peer connection and collaboration among state, territory, and tribal kinship navigator program leaders, contracted providers, evaluators, technical assistance partners and advocacy organizations focused on kinship family support services. Contact to request membership.

Training Resources 

Related Resources 

Did you receive this message from a friend? Get it delivered to your inbox.