Kinship care better for maltreated kids: study

June 3rd, 2008 - 2:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 3 (IANS) Maltreated children placed with kin had fewer behavioural problems in later years than those placed with foster-care homes, according to new research. The study relied on a national sample of 1,309 children removed from their homes between October 1999 and December 2000, following reports of maltreatment,

The results provide clinching evidence to support efforts to identify “kinship care” as an alternative to placing children with non-relative foster care and to maximize the support and services that will help children achieve permanency in these settings.

“For a long time people have debated the value of kin in providing both stability and permanency to children,” said David M. Rubin, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and co-author of the study.

“Our results suggest for the first time, in a national population group, that family care may offer protective value in terms of well being and stability for children in out-of-home care.”

“In the past, what has been difficult to reconcile is whether the benefit of a connection to family exceeds potential risks that children may face because kin care-givers tend to be single, older, of poorer health, of lower economic status, or - some may argue - more likely to share the same issues as those of the birth parents that may have harmed the children,” said Rubin.

Three years after placement, nearly two-thirds of the children in kinship care were in long-lasting settings with family that were established quickly after they entered care, compared with only a third of children in foster care who achieved similar stability.

The researchers also found that children placed in early kinship care had only a 32 percent risk of behavioural problems, compared to a risk of 46 percent in children assigned to foster care.

These findings have been published in the June issue of the Archives of Paediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

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