Session: Child and Caregiver Well-Being: Advancing Evidence for Culturally Responsive Kinship Care Services and Policies (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

96 Child and Caregiver Well-Being: Advancing Evidence for Culturally Responsive Kinship Care Services and Policies

Friday, January 14, 2022: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Marquis BR Salon 8, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Child Welfare
Yanfeng Xu, PhD, University of South Carolina, Nancy Mendoza, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, Joyce Lee, MSW, MS, The Ohio State University, Eun Koh, PhD, The Catholic University of America and Ramona Denby-Brinson, Ph.D., MSW, College of Social Work
In the United States, 7,416,698 children reside with kinship caregivers. Kinship caregivers, comprising those connected to a child biologically, legally, and/or fictively, provide care through voluntary, public, private, informal or formal arrangements, usually resulting from biological parents' illness, incarceration, absenteeism, or their inability to keep children safe and meet their needs.

Increasingly, the child welfare system, through its policies and practices, has espoused a preference for kinship placement. Recent research has demonstrated kinship care to be a child welfare system resource because it is thought to be a protective practice, given the positive effects experienced by children in relation to placement stability, socioemotional outcomes, and permanency achievements.

While literature on kinship care has expanded significantly over the past decades, there remains significant unanswered questions. For example, with the field's focus on formal kinship care, we know little about the children reared in informal arrangements and their caregivers' needs and capacities. Additionally, despite advances made, the knowledge base is insufficient with respect to understanding how best to promote child and caregiver well-being. Likewise, given the racial disparities in child welfare systems, we must better understand the needs of families of color who comprise the largest kinship care population. Finally, families of color, formally or informally involved in kinship care, possess remarkable strengths, and we need to understand how best to use culturally responsive models, such as indigenous models of intergenerational care, to promote child and caregiver well-being.

This roundtable session will begin a dialogue about viable research directions that can advance knowledge of kinship care. One presenter will overview the state of the art on kinship care and present a research framework to guide future inquiry. Then, another presenter will spotlight the need to investigate the unique experiences of informal kinship families, including the impact of disparities in available services. A third presenter will direct discussion on racial disparities in child outcomes by presenting research-derived information about White-Black differences in children's educational and behavioral health outcomes. These data results are especially illuminating given that they capture kinship family functioning amidst COVID-19. Another presenter will expand the discussion by offering outcome data about the implementation of a well-supported, culturally responsive intervention for kinship caregivers designed to improve child and caregiver well-being, administered during the pandemic. A fifth presenter will offer another viable kinship practice framed by an indigenous model that highlights the role of intergenerational relationships by which Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders' culture and history are passed down to children in kinship care and linked to positive associations with the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander children's health outcomes.

Our goal is to stimulate conversation about what is known, unknown, and promising relating to kinship care research. Implications for practice (e.g., cross-system collaboration models); policy (e.g., development of well-supported culturally responsive services particularly those that are Family First Prevention Services Act reimbursable); and research (e.g., building the evidence for support models particularly for families of color, leveraging their resilience especially amidst crisis-spawned precarious health and economic situations) will be illuminated.

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