Kinship Care and Foster Care: A Comparison of Out-of-Home Placement From the Perspective of Child Abuse Experts in North Carolina.
BACKGROUND Children may be placed in either kinship or foster care, forms of out-of-home placement (OHP), if maltreatment is suspected. The American Academy of Pediatrics has identified them as children with special health needs requiring elevated care. While North Carolina has increased support for foster care, it is unclear whether similar support exists for kinship care. Child abuse medical providers (CAMPs) were interviewed regarding their understanding and assessment of the state of the kinship care system in North Carolina, and how it can be improved.METHODS CAMPs were individually interviewed using a semi-structured, open-ended question guide to assess their perspectives on kinship versus foster care in North Carolina. Data were coded, and the analysis was conducted in an inductive manner, allowing themes and then recommendations to emerge from interviews.RESULTS The following three themes were identified: 1) providers have a foundational understanding of the kinship care system, marked by knowledge gaps; 2) children in kinship care and foster care have equivalent, elevated health needs, but children in kinship care do not receive the same level of care; 3) individual and structural changes have to be made to the interprofessional teams working within the OHP system.LIMITATIONS The study sample was small, including eight CAMPs who had relatively homogenous demographic characteristics. CAMPs typically see the worst cases of maltreatment, which may bias responses. Additionally, the majority of children in kinship care are unknown to CAMPs and may not be fully represented in responses.CONCLUSION CAMPs' responses were summarized into a set of recommendations targeting four different components of the OHP team: the general interprofessional team, policymakers and state leaders, medical providers, and social workers.
Darwiche, S; Terrell, L; Skinner, AC; Narayan, AP
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