An investigation into the nature of the kinship foster home
Thornton, Jesse Lemuel
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There are basically two types of foster family care arrangements which comprise the foster care system of New York City. These consist of the traditional-type unrelated foster family and the kinship foster family. The fundamental difference between the two types of foster families is suggested in the terms themselves. Kinship foster families are related through blood ties and/or marriage to the placed child(ren); the opposite is the case with unrelated foster families. While there is considerable documentation of unrelated foster families in the foster care literature, to the present, little systematic data exists on kinship foster families.;The study explores the nature of the kinship foster home through examining the perceptions of social workers and kinship foster parents on role expectations of the foster parent position and other related issues as these apply to the kinship foster parent.;The samples studied were eighty-six social workers and twenty kinship foster mothers in a public adoption and foster care agency. The predominant worker was single, female, in 41-50 age group and had ten or more years of agency experience. Half were educated beyond the bachelors degree, forty-one percent had MSW degrees. The predominant kinship foster parent was black, Protestant, female, single, age 54.7 years, with less than a high school education and a grandparent of the placed child. Three separate researcher-designed instruments were utilized in data collection: (1) social worker questionnaire, (2) kinship foster parent interview schedule, and (3) a schedule for retrieving data from kinship foster family records. The study employs an exploratory-descriptive design. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were utilized in data analysis.;The study helps to identify and explain an important component of foster care practice. The findings, among other things, help to justify the use of kinship foster homes and to establish that these foster care arrangements are unique. The fact of differences between kinship foster family care arrangements and unrelated foster family care arrangements needs to be recognized and addressed by foster care policy makers and researchers as well. This study helps to provide a basis for such consideration.