For every child in the territory of the United States who encounters foster care, nearly 25% are brought up outside the underlying foster care system. Placements are more lasting once children are placed with their relatives. Moreover, kinship care permits children to stay linked to their cultural traditions and family (Poitras, Tarabulsy, Valliamee, Lapierre, & Provost, 2017). Over the past four decades, the ratio of U.S. children living under the care of grandparents has increased steadily from 3% in 1970 to 75% in 2010. Invariably, having grandparents as foster parents is a key aspect of kinship care, and it encompasses both merits and demerits for both parties, the children and the caregivers.
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The value accruing to kinship care was legally acknowledged in the USA in 2008 with the (FCSIAA) Fostering Connections to Success & Increasing Adoptions Act’s passage. The aim of this act was to enable grandparents as well as other relatives to bring up kids and lower the population of children in the non-relative foster care. Out of the 427,910 kids that dominated foster care in 2015, 30 percent of them are enjoying the care accruing from a relative as asserted by the Adoption & Foster Care Analysis & Reporting System. Nevertheless, growing population of the kids in the US live with their grandparents. For instance, in 2010, nearly 7% of them (5.4 million children) lived with foster grandparents, an increment from 4.7 million in 2005. Additionally, in 2010, over half of the children population (54%) were raised primarily by grandparents as foster parents. These grandparents are obligatory for helping the children cater to their fundamental needs. Invariably, the children population living with grandparents as their key care providers increased from 2.5 million (2005) to 2.9 million (2010), revealing a 16% increment over the decade (Scommegna, 2018).
Nonetheless, the children under kinship placements headed by grandparents are at an elevated peril of suffering from mental illness besides behavioral and academic difficulties. In addition to that, the majority of the grandparents’ incomes encompass retirement or fixed incomes that are fairly below the poverty line. Consequently, grandparents acting as foster parents are trending towards an elevated need regarding a chain of case management and counseling services. As anxiety and stress perpetuate, foster grandparents are fairly less inclined to uphold they’re individual financial and health stability. The trigger of their anxiety entails role confusion, school-related concerns, and constrained financial support (Poitras et al., 2017). However, there is a key merit of placement with grandparents (relatives) since it avoids the challenge of aging out of the prominent foster care system. Moreover, foster grandparents spend most of their time with the children since they are hardly engaged in long working hours, unlike the young productive parents who spend most of their time at work and have less time to share with their kids. Furthermore, the FCSIAA offers incentives for the kinship care-providers to legalize their arrangement via adoption. Another demerit comes on the side of the kids since they typically miss the direct parent-child relationship and interaction. The foster grandparents are of great assistance to the socialization of the kids whose mothers have little time for their kids (Kropf & Kelley, 2017).
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In a nutshell, having grandparents as foster parents activates both positive and fairly adverse impacts on the children. Precisely, potential demerits include the constrained financial potential to enable the kids to cater for their basic needs and schooling; healthcare needs; and facilitating the entire socialization process for the children. Nonetheless, potential merits include that the grandparents hardly work for long hours and hence have adequate time to share with the children besides guiding them via the potential socialization process and familiarization with the traditions and customs.
- Kropf, N.P., & Kelley, S. (2017). Why More Grandparents are raising their Grandchildren. The Conversation.
- Poitras, K., Tarabulsy, G.M., Valliamee, E., Lapierre, S. & Provost, M. (2017). Grandparents as foster parents: Psychological distress, commitment, & sensitivity to their grandchildren. Grandfamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice & Policy, 4(1), 143-163.
- Scommegna, P. (2018). More U.S. children raised by grandparents. Population Reference Bureau.