Abstract: Risk and Protective Factors for African American Kinship Caregiving: A Scoping Review (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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696P Risk and Protective Factors for African American Kinship Caregiving: A Scoping Review

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Qi Wu, PhD, Assistant Professor, Arizona State University, AZ
Yiqi Zhu, PhD, Assistant Professor, Adelphi University
Kanisha Brevard, PhD, Research Associate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Shiyou Wu, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Judy Krysik, PhD, Associate Professor, Arizona State University, AZ
Background/Purpose: African American children are disproportionately placed in kinship care, specifically with kin caregivers who have pressing service needs given their relatively poor physical and mental health, and low economic status. Kinship caregivers often face challenges, however, they also show resilience when raising relative children. Although the literature has examined risk and protective factors that affect kinship caregiving, no scoping review has been conducted to summarize these factors as they relate to African American kinship caregivers. This study aims to summarize the risk and protective factors that affect African American kinship caregiving. Identification of these factors could lead to the development of supportive interventions for kinship families. Providing adequate support to children and their kinship caregivers has the potential to mitigate the negative effects of maltreatment and parental separation.

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.