Is higher placement stability in kinship foster care by virtue or design?

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40 Scopus citations


Prior research has repeatedly documented higher placement stability for children who enter kinship care rather than non-relative foster care. However, little is known about why, and under what circumstances, kinship care is more stable. This study uses longitudinal state administrative data to explore possible explanations. Results suggest that, while children in non-relative foster care are indeed at higher risk of any placement move than their peers in kinship care, this appears to be partly driven by child selection factors and policy preferences for kinship care. That is, the gap is not explained primarily by different rates of caregiver-requested moves. However, the gap was sizably smaller among select high-risk subgroups of foster children, suggesting that higher stability in kinship care may be partly explained by differences in the characteristics of children entering kinship care (versus non-relative foster care). Moreover, a large portion of the gap is explained by children in non-relative care being moved into kinship care; a move that is likely the result of policy preferences for kinship care rather than a defect in the initial placement. In sum, these results suggest that kinship care provides only a limited stability advantage, and the reasons for that advantage are not well understood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-111
Number of pages13
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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