MONDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Children who live with a
relative after being removed from their home because of
maltreatment have fewer behavioral and social skills problems than
children in foster homes, finds a new study.
However, children who live with a relative, also known as a
kinship caregiver, may have a higher risk for substance abuse and
pregnancy as teenagers, said the researchers at University of Texas
Southwestern Medical Center and Children's Medical Center,
They also found that even though kinship caregivers are more
likely than foster caregivers to have a low socioeconomic status,
they receive fewer support services.
The study included 572 children placed in kinship care and 736
children placed in foster care. Three years after placement,
kinship-care children were more likely than those in foster care to
have a permanent caregiver (71 percent vs. 56.4 percent).
Kinship-care children also had 0.6 times the risk of behavioral and
social skills problems and half the risk of using outpatient mental
health services or taking psychotropic medications.
However, adolescents in kinship care had twice the risk of
substance abuse (34.6 percent vs. 16.9 percent) and seven times the
risk of pregnancy (12.6 percent vs. 1.9 percent).
Kinship caregivers tend to be single, unemployed, older and live
in poor neighborhoods, said the researchers.
Kinship caregivers were also four times more likely than foster
caregivers not to have graduated from high school and three times
more likely to have an annual household income of less than
$20,000. But kinship caregivers were less than half as likely as
foster caregivers to receive any type of financial support, about
four times less likely to receive any form of parent training, and
seven times less likely to have peer support groups or respite
The study appears in the February issue of the journal
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
"Our findings indicate that kinship caregivers need greater support services," the researchers wrote in a news release from the publisher. "These findings suggest that increased supervision and monitoring of the kinship environment and increased caregiver support services are urgently needed to improve outcomes of children in kinship care," they added.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about
out-of-home care for children.