February 2019
Issue on Kinship Care
" [If my kinship carer hadn’t stepped in to raise me] I would definitely have ended up in care. I don’t think I’d have a relationship with my sister, which scares me, scared me. And I think that would have had quite . . . quite a big effect on me emotionally actually."

-  Young person in kinship care, from Growing up in Kinship Care: Experiences as Adolescents and Outcomes in Young Adulthood

"There’s a lot of grandparents still out there who don’t know where the help and support is."

-  Grandparent kinship carer, from Growing up in Kinship Care: Experiences as Adolescents and Outcomes in Young Adulthood
Children in need of care and protection in many parts of the world are increasingly being placed with relatives and family friends. Such care may provide a loving and secure upbringing, yet many kinship families live in poverty and experience great emotional strain. This special issue of the BCN newsletter - produced in collaboration with Dr Meredith Kiraly, a researcher in kinship care - presents recent publications from the UK, US, Australia and a range of other countries that describe the benefits and challenges of providing children’s care within their family network. Publications include the perspectives of young people and kinship carers; circumstances of kinship families based on large statistical samples; family violence in kinship care; assessment of kinship care arrangements; and two special journal issues full of articles on informal kin care. 

We are also pleased to present an article that provides an overview of kinship care in Africa, and an article each from Ghana and South Africa. More publications about kinship care in African countries are in the pipeline. In this issue, BCN also presents other recent research, updates, news, events, and videos related to children's care issues around the world.

Florence Martin
Director, Better Care Network

Meredith Kiraly, PhD
Senior Research Fellow (part-time), Department of Social Work, The University of Melbourne
Focus on Kinship Care
The Focus Section brings together research and other documentation published over the past year or two on a particular theme or region. Its aim is to draw attention to the growing body of knowledge developing on the issue and help busy practitioners keep abreast of learning and changes.
United Kingdom

This report from Grandparents Plus is based on a survey of members of the Grandparents Plus Kinship Care Support Network, which includes almost 4,000 kinship carers in the UK . The report explores the experiences of kinship carers, especially the support they receive, identifies significant unmet support needs, and provides recommendations based on the findings of the survey. 

Related Topics: Kinship Care

The aims of this study from Grandparents Plus were to examine the experiences and outcomes of young adults, aged 16-26, who had lived, or continued to live, in kinship care in the UK .

Related Topics: Kinship Care
This study from the journal of Qualitative Social Work addresses the needs of Scottish kinship carers of teenage children who have been identified as being in need of extra support.

Related Topics: Kinship Care
This study from the journal of Social Policy and Society provides UK evidence for the relationship between kinship care and deprivation and examines how the welfare state frames kinship care in policy and practice.

This policy brief from the Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies at the University of Bristol provides the most current estimates of the number and characteristics of the children growing up with relatives in the UK , which were established through analyses of secure microdata from the 2011 Census, highlighting analysis and policy implications of those findings.

Briefing Paper Series: The Prevalence and Characteristics of Children Growing Up with Relatives in the UK

This briefing paper series from the Hadley Centre for Adoption & Foster Care Studies at the University of Bristol highlights findings from an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded research study. The study explores the prevalence and characteristics of children growing up in kinship care in the UK using 2011 Census microdata. Briefing papers in the series present findings on the characteristics of children living with relatives in England , Scotland , and Wales .

Related Topics: Kinship Care

This book from CoramBAAF is designed to help social workers in the UK to manage and complete a comprehensive and evidence-based assessment of connected people / family and friends who wish to foster or be special guardians to a known child or children.


This research by Dr Meredith Kiraly seeks to address the gap in attention paid to the care of children by family friends (non-familial kinship care) in Australia .

Related Topics: Kinship Care
This opinion piece by Meredith Kiraly and Cathy Humphreys traces the rise of statutory kinship care in Australia from the progressive reduction of residential care and the struggle to recruit sufficient foster carers to meet demand for protective care.

The aim of this study from the Child Abuse Review was to evaluate the social and cultural acceptability of the Winangay Aboriginal Kinship Carer Assessment Tool to practitioners responsible for assessing kinship carers in Australia .

This paper from Children Australia presents findings from research with 101 kinship carers to gain a better understanding of how family violence was impacting on children and families in kinship care in Victoria, Australia .

This qualitative Australian study from the British Journal of Social Work explored how contact between grandparents as kinship carers and their grandchildren could be optimised after child-safety concerns.

Related Topics: Kinship Care
The current study from the Children and Youth Services Review examined placement, carer, and child characteristics related to perceived foster parent stress in a sample of 158 foster and kin carers in Queensland, Australia .

Related Topics: Kinship Care, Foster Care
This article from Child & Family Social Work reports findings from a recent partnership research project in Australia focused on optimizing grandparent contact and ongoing relationships with grandchildren after child safety concerns.

Related Topics: Kinship Care
United States
This two-part special issue of the Child Welfare Journal focuses on children in kinship care in the US —those who are being raised by grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings, and non-related extended family members—to bring attention to this less visible area of public child welfare, featuring policy-based and empirical research on kinship families.

This report from Generations United provides data on the opioid crisis in the US , and its impact on grandfamilies, and offers policy and program recommendations related to recently passed legislation - the Family First Prevention Services Act and the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act.

This bulletin from the US Children's Bureau highlights supports and services for kinship caregivers, training for caseworkers and caregivers, and examples of successful kinship care programs.

Related Topics: Kinship Care
This study from the Journal of Women & Aging utilizes self-report data from one kinship navigator federal demonstration project in the US , which used a randomized control trial to examine demographic characteristics for grandmothers under and over 55 years of age, whether grandmother caregivers improve family resilience, social support, and caregiver self-efficacy, and which interventions improved outcomes for grandmothers.

Related Topics: Kinship Care
The purpose of this systematic review from the Children and Youth Services Review is to compare the associations of kinship care and non-kinship care with children's mental health and to examine the factors associated with children's mental health in kinship care and non-kinship foster care. This review found that children in kinship care exhibited better mental health outcomes than children in non-kinship care in the univariate and bivariate comparisons. 

Related Topics: Kinship Care
Other Regions & Countries

This chapter from the South African Child Gauge 2018 focuses on childcare and children’s caregivers in South Africa and aims to address the following questions: Who provides care for children? How does the state support or undermine care choices? Why and how should the state support caregivers? The chapter provides an overview of mothers and fathers as caregivers as well as the use of informal kinship care and foster care in South Africa.

This study from the Children and Youth Services Review investigates the difference in the well-being of children in kinship care when compared to children in other care settings within Africa , examining factors that are associated with their well-being outcomes.

Related Topics: Kinship Care
The objective of this study from Research on Social Work Practice is to evaluate the effectiveness of intervention programs that aim to enhance the well-being of grandparent caregivers and the developmental outcomes of grandchildren and identify useful program components. Relevant studies reviewed include those from the US , Australia , Hong Kong , and China .

Related Topics: Kinship Care
The topic of interest in this paper from the journal of Qualitative Social Work is the relationship between children who live in kinship care in Norway and their birth parents – through childhood and adulthood.

Related Topics: Kinship Care
This paper from Child & Family Social Work presents findings from 15 families receiving services from the Department of Social Welfare in Sekondi, Ghana . Through semistructured in‐depth interviews, the families shared their views on the roles played by their kin and informal social networks in contributing to the care of their children.

Understanding the Situation

This paper from Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies describes the underpinning principles and frameworks of the Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children (VAC), conducted by national research teams comprising government, practitioners and academic researchers in  Italy Peru Viet Nam and Zimbabwe . The corresponding country papers present snapshots of the specific findings in each country, which helped stakeholders further their understanding about the drivers of VAC and what can be done to address them.

The question addressed in this paper by Charles A. Nelson, et al. from the  Neural Plasticity  journal is what happens to brain and behavior when a young child is deprived of key experiences during critical periods of brain development. The paper summarizes findings from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, a randomized controlled trial of foster care for institutionally reared children in Romania .

This study by Mark Wade, et al. from the PNAS journal examined longitudinal trajectories of memory and executive functioning (EF) from childhood to adolescence in the Bucharest Early Intervention Project in Romania .

Using data from Ghana —a country that has initiated reintegration of children from residential care facilities, therefore providing a natural opportunity for comparative research—the authors of this study from the  Children and Youth Services Review  used hope, whether the child has been reunified with family/caregivers or remained in the care facility, and a statistical interaction of the two, along with controls, to predict the Child Status Index, an internationally-established measure of child wellbeing.

This National Mapping Exercise covering Child Care Institutions(CCIs)/Homes in India sheds light on the functioning of CCIs/Homes across the country, in the context of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. The findings of this report are expected to provide necessary guidance to all stakeholders regarding improvements required in policy formulation and implementation in future.

This issue of the ICEB journal is a special edition on the aftercare concerns of young adults who leave the care of agencies and embark on a journey of their own. This transition, while acknowledged, has not been adequately researched or understood in the South Asian Region . The compilation of papers in this issue aim to shed some light on the concerns of this transitional group and generate ideas for further investigation and exploration.

This article from Emerging Adulthood examines the aftercare experiences of young people who have recently left a residential care institution in Lagos State, Nigeria .

This study from The Lancet investigated the effect of parental migration on the health of left behind-children and adolescents in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) .

Related Topics: Children and Migration
Guided by social-ecological theory, this study from Child Abuse & Neglect explores responses to violence against children with disabilities, including preventative measures and treatment of victims in the West African countries of Guinea , Niger , Sierra Leone , and Togo .

This 40-country benchmarking index examines how countries are responding to the threat of sexual violence against children. The Out of the Shadows Index examines four categories within which these responses take place: environment, legal framework, government commitment and capacity, and engagement of industry, civil society and media.

Policies, Standards, and Guidelines
This short human rights in action article from the Journal of Human Rights and Social Work takes a critical approach to the translation of policy to practice in Cambodia and highlights risks involved with haste, outcomes measured in numbers and unrealistic timeframes, and rapidly transforming practice with nascent investment in a country’s capacity to assess and respond to the real needs of children and families within their communities.

This guidance was produced by Changing the Way We Care with the Kenya Society of Care Leavers to address how to best engage care leavers - who have suffered personal trauma in their past and may not have an existing safety net to protect them, yet have a very important voice - in care reform.

Drawing on international and European law and guidance and the Barnahus model, this document from the PROMISE Project series funded by the European Union introduces ten good practice standards, the “European Barnahus Standards”, for multidisciplinary and interagency services for child victims and witnesses of violence in Europe adapted to the child.

Learning from Practice

This online training from the Faith to Action Initiative provides an overview of the key concepts and steps that are important to a successful transition to family care process. The training utilizes short videos of presentations and interviews with transition experts and practitioners, as well as downloadable activities, guidance, and resources.

 At a US House of Representatives Hearing on Migrant Family Separation Policy, Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D. (Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University) gave testimony on the impacts of family separation on children, highlighting the "strong scientific consensus supported by decades of peer-reviewed research" that "sudden, forcible separation of children from their parents is deeply traumatic for both the child and the parent."

The Families First Programme, an adaptation of the Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting Programme to the West Java, Indonesia context, is a parenting support programme anchored on children’s rights that gives parents guidance on child development, parenting and positive discipline practices. This trial will evaluate the effectiveness of the Families First Programme compared with a waitlist control group.

This qualitative study from the International Journal of Social Welfare sought to explore the perspectives of a group of South African caregivers, all of whom were in receipt of a Child Support Grant (CSG), in relation to their own caregiving and family functioning.

This study from Developmental Child Welfare presents the feasibility and pilot evaluation of the Reflective Fostering Programme (RFP), a recently developed, group-based program to support foster carers in the UK , based on the concept of “reflective parenting.”

Related Topics: Foster Care
The present study from Developmental Child Welfare describes a community implementation of treatment foster care (TFC) for children and youth involved with child welfare in Ontario, Canada .

Related Topics: Foster Care

This animated video shared by the Guardian tells the story of the separation of a young boy from his mother at the US border with Mexico upon their entry into the US from Guatemala .

This webinar was organized by the Child Protection Minimum Standards Working Group of the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action. The purpose of this webinar was to summarize the key findings and highlight the recommendations of the recently published report: Child Neglect in Humanitarian Settings: Literature Review and Recommendations for Strengthening Prevention and Response .

Related Topics: Child Abuse and Neglect

12 March 2019
Glasgow, Scotland
1-5 April 2019
Preston, England
Deadline for booking is 28 February 2019
10-12 April 2019
Leuven, Belgium
8-10 May 2019
Louisville, Kentucky, USA
9 February 2019
3 March 2019
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Newsletter participants, currently 4,189 in total, work on issues related to the care and support of vulnerable children across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. The purpose of the newsletter is to enable members to exchange information on matters of mutual concern. If you would like to share a document, raise a specific issue, request a newsletter subscription, or reach out in any other way to the Network, please send the information to us at  contact@bettercarenetwork.org  or visit our website at  www.bettercarenetwork.org.  

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