Methods: Quantitative methods including bivariate and multivariate analyses of variables (e.g., t-tests, chi-square tests, OLS regression) were used to analyze the data.
Two studies explored adoptive and guardianship homes. Study #1 examined survey data of adoptive and guardianship families in the state of Vermont and a county in North Carolina. Demographic characteristics and wellbeing outcomes of kin versus non-kin adoptive or guardianship families were analyzed. Study #2 examined survey responses from adoptive parents and guardians of children in Illinois and New Jersey, comparing outcomes for children who achieved legal permanence with kin - to children who achieved legal permanency with non-kin placements, with specific analysis of the impact of grandparents, uncles or aunts, and non-kin.
Two studies explored adoptive placements in foster care, Study #3 examined the effectiveness of curriculum on trauma, grief, and loss for foster care children, placed in adoptive homes with kin versus non-kin caregivers. Study #4 examined the relationship between kin placements and a sense of belonging for children in adoptive placements in foster care and their caregivers, controlling for sibling and biological parent contact, and select child well-being covariates.
Results: In kinship families, children were slightly older, caregivers were likely partnered or married, children were less likely to have lived outside the home, and caregivers reported less behavior problems, as compared to non-kinship families. Children and youth placed with kin had fewer behavioral issues reported than children who achieved legal permanence with non-kin families. Children who achieved legal permanence with grandparents reported a greater sense of belonging and security compared to non-kin. In pre-adoptive placements, caregiver training about trauma, grief, and loss found that kin caregivers observed, on average, a stepper decrease in child behavioral issues than non-kin caregivers.
Conclusions: Evidence indicates differences between kin and non-kin caregivers who are foster, adopt, or assume guardianship of children formerly in foster care. Results confirmed the importance of kinship in pre-adoptive placements for fostering a sense of belonging for both child and caregiver. These findings suggest further exploration is needed in research to improve practices and policies for kinship families.