Method: Articles were searched in the following electronic databases: Academic Search Complete, APA PsycInfo, SocINDEX, Family and Society Studies Worldwide, Social Services Abstracts and Sociological Abstracts.. The inclusion criteria for this review are: 1) studies should examine African American kinship caregivers; 2) the studies should focus on the risk and protective factors that are associated with African American kinship caregiving; 3) studies should be empirical using qualitative or/and quantitative methods. 4) studies should be conducted in the United States and published in English in peer reviewed journals. Based on the criteria, twenty-six studies were identified from this scoping review. A data template was used to extract information on data/sample, research methods, and risk and protective factors.
Results: This review found that the risk and protective factors in the identified studies can be summarized into four types: child, caregiver, relationship, and legal, cultural or social issues. Caregiver factors were examined from the perspective of physical and behavioral health, parenting, and resources. The most common risk factors were caregivers’ low social economic status or great financial need, and caregivers’ physical health. Other main risk factors included child behaviors, caregiver’s responsibility or multiple roles in the family, and family relationship. The most common protective factor was caregivers’ spirituality or religion. Other main protective factors included caregiver’s good physical health or well-being, social support, positive feelings when raising relative’s child, etc.
Conclusions and Implications: This review helps to better understand the risk and protective factors for African American kinship caregivers. Examining risk factors is beneficial to identify the challenges that kinship caregivers are facing and to understand caregivers’ needs. Focusing on protective factors is also critical because it helps to strengthen family resilience. Reducing risk and fostering resilience are both necessary to support African American kinship families. Policies should be informed by African American kinship caregivers’ unique qualities to provide useful cultural solutions. Evidence based interventions should be developed and provided to African American kinship caregivers to improve their parenting abilities and to provide them with additional resources and supports. Implications for child welfare research are also presented.