Health status and type of out-of-home placement: Informal kinship care in an investigated sample

Ruth E.K. Stein, Michael S. Hurlburt, Amy M. Heneghan, Jinjin Zhang, Jennifer Rolls-Reutz, John Landsverk, Sarah McCue Horwitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To assess the sociodemographic, health, and mental health of children in different types of out-of-home placements after investigation by child welfare agencies; to determine whether there are systematic differences in the children and their caregivers by type of out-of-home placements; and to provide the first description of these characteristics in a nationally representative sample for children in informal kinship care after child welfare involvement. METHODS: Using data from the National Survey of Child and AdolescentWell-being (NSCAWII), we compared children (0- 17.5 years) in formal nonkinship foster care, formal kinship foster care, and informal kinship care shortly after a child welfare investigation. All analyses were weighted to reflect the sampling design. RESULTS: Children in informal kinship care are at comparable risk of having chronic health conditions and poorer health but are less likely to receive school-based services. All children in kinship care (formal and informal) are less likely to be reported to have mental health problems and are more likely to live with older caregivers whose educational level is low and whose health is reportedly poorer. CONCLUSIONS: Although children in kinship care have health problems similar to children in nonkinship foster care, they are likely to live in families with fewer economic and educational resources. This mismatch between need and access has implications for the long-term well-being of the children who are living in informal kinship arrangements without system-level support of formal foster care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-564
Number of pages6
JournalAcademic Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014


  • Foster children
  • Health
  • Insurance
  • Kinship care
  • Mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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