Kinship Caregivers & The Hidden Foster Care System


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Kinship caregivers (primarily grandparents raising their grandchildren) are often functioning as a shadow foster care system. We talk with Josh Gupta-Kagan, a Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina School of Law and author of America’s Hidden Foster Care System in the Stanford Law Review, and Karissa Phelps, a Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow at Temple Legal Aid, where she provides legal representation and services to kinship caregivers.
In this episode, we cover:

  • In many cases, child protection agencies induce parents to transfer physical custody of their children to kinship caregivers by threatening to place the children in foster care.
  • How often does this happen?
  • Why do you call this the “hidden” foster care system?
  • Generally speaking, don’t we consider it best practice for kids to remain with extended family? So why is this a problem? Is it inherently coercive?
  • What are the advantages to encouraging placement with kin before they enter the formal foster care system?
  • What are the risks?
  • If this transfer takes place outside of the system, how long does it last? How can children go home? Who decides?
  • How does this differ from informal kinship care?
  • How does The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 contribute to the “hidden foster care system”?
  • Do you see kinship placements increasing?
  • What are child welfare agencies doing to support kinship families?
  • Follow the money: Is it less expensive for agencies to place with kin rather than unrelated foster parents?
  • How is foster care funded?
  • What is the status of kinship navigator programs?
  • How can we best support kinship families?
  • What do you see as the biggest challenges to kinship families?

This podcast is produced by We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them. Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:

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