Children who leave homes after being ill treated are likely to have less behavioural problems if placed with relatives rather than in foster care, says a new study.
The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being conducted by Department of Health and Human Services revealed that kids under an arrangement known as kinship care are likely to have less fewer behaviour problems that those placed in foster care.
"The growth in kinship care is the result of a sustained effort to improve permanency for children since the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997," the authors write.
"Since then, child welfare agencies have increased efforts to place children with kin despite scant and conflicting evidence of improved outcomes for children in kinship care compared with children in general foster care," they added.
David M. Rubin, of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia then analyzed data from 1,309 children participating in the survey who entered out-of-home care following a report of maltreatment between 1999 and 2000.
The children were surveyed at the beginning of the study, again at 18 months and at 36 months later.
Among the participants 599 were initially placed in kinship care, 710 entered foster care; of those, 17 percent moved to kinship care after at least one month in foster care.
While keeping in mind the child's risk for behaviour problems at the time of removal from the home, the findings showed that 32 percent of children entering kinship care directly had behavioural problems 36 months later, compared with 39 percent of children who moved from foster care to kinship care and 46 percent of children who stayed in foster care.
"This finding supports efforts to maximize placement of children with willing and available kin when they enter out-of-home care," said the researchers.
"When kinship care is a realistic option and appropriate safeguards have been met, children in kinship care might have an advantage over children in foster care in achieving permanency and improved well-being, albeit with the recognition that their needs will remain great, exceeding those of children who have not experienced child maltreatment," the they added.
The findings are reported in June issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.