Kinship care is defined as foster care. The term is currently used to define out of home placement. Kinship care is not considered to be a permanent solution; it’s more of a temporary solution. Relative adoptions however function a bit differently. Legislation requires relative care givers to meet the same licensing standards as non- relative caregivers, although the same services are not provided. Generally relative caregivers are not provided with the same financial support that non- relative caregivers are. Non-relative care givers are not provided with the same stipend as relative care givers.
Ultimately the level of support is bent on state funds which happen to vary from state to state. Non- relative caregivers are thus forced to accept TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). TANF does not provide families with the necessary services such as educational, mental, health, counseling and childcare. Informal adoptions have become more prominent in today’s society. They are continuously expanding in the African American community. Currently there are over 2 million African American children that are being raised by grandparents, aunts, uncles and other extended family members.
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Although this number has increased greatly the majority of these children still remain outside the child welfare system. 20 percent of black children who are being raised by relatives are in foster care and the other 80 percent remain in informal adoptions. In 1997 the Adoption and Safe Families Act was passed. This act required states to initiate or join proceeding to terminate parental rights for parents whose children had been in 15 months, except in situations where the child was placed with relatives, or if termination of parental rights were not in the best interest of the child.
In most states the mandate relating to termination of parental right is solely recognized while the second part regarding placing children with relatives is not. Studies have shown that the level of child abuse found among children is lower for kids raised by kin. However each state has its own way of defining what a relative is. The definition doesn’t take cultural perspectives into account. African Americans define the term family as a wide range of non relatives whether it is through marriage or fictive kin, for example friends, godparents, and neighbors.
The term family is not limited to the people who live in the same household, it also includes those who do not but perform important family functions. Striving to legislate kinship care though the ASFA (Adoptions and Safe Families Act) has caused fewer relative caregivers the opportunity to become licensed as foster caregivers. Evaluation After reading the article I found it to be very informative because it provided a lot of interesting and detailed information about kinship care when it comes to relative and non-relative caregivers.
The article not only provided clarity but it also provided positive outcomes to relative adoptions. It showed the difference in outcome between in relative and non-relative care givers. It was proven through studies that kids that are fostered by relatives vs. non relative care givers are given the opportunity to maintain a relationship with their family members. Kinship not only facilitates cultural, spiritual and social growth it serves as an important component in family preservation and reunification. I believe that it’s most definitely always in the best interest of the child to be with a family member.
This allows the child to still have a sense of belonging. The author presented evidence that stated the lowest levels of child abuse were found among children who are raised by kin. It also stated that kinship care had the highest rates of stability and permanence for children. This is easy to believe because I believe a family member would be less likely to abuse a child because of the love and the connection they feel to the child opposed to the non-relative caregiver that shares no type of family bond or cultural connection.
I feel like the author presented a very persuasive argument by showing that kinship care was not something foreign to the African American culture. This is something that has dated back as the slave era when elderly relatives would assume responsibility for children whose parents had been sold off to slave owners. The only questions that I felt were left unanswered is what plans have actually been executed. Has anything been done to provide kinship families the same services and stipends as non-related families. I feel kinship families should be provided the exact same opportunities and services granted to non-relative caregivers.
The best interest of the child should still be the main priority regardless. I don’t understand the justification in not providing kinship families these services because they are still needed just as much in kinship families. Education, health care, financial and housing support should not be dependent upon whether it is a relative or non-relative adoption. The needs for these services are just as valuable in both cases. This article really provided me with a better understanding in the way relative vs. non-relative adoptions work.
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