Top Stories of 2018: The Rise of Relatives

Maine kinship caregiver Bette Hoxie speaks at last year’s GrandRally in Washington, D.C.

We’re counting down 10 of the biggest stories The Chronicle of Social Change published in 2018. Each day, we’ll connect readers with a few links to our coverage on a big story from 2018.

There is a lack of publicly available information about what states have to work with when they decide that a child should be removed from his or her home. That is why The Chronicle started an ambitious research and reporting project called Who Cares: A National Count of Foster Homes and Families.

What became immediately clear from this work is that without a growing reliance on relatives willing to take in children who can’t stay at home, many state child welfare systems would be in a perpetual crisis in terms of capacity. Forty-four states saw an increase in relative placements from 2012 to 2016.

Many states have increased this reliance on kin without supporting them in the same way they support other foster parents. According to AFCARS data, there are 23 states where more than half of all relative caregivers receive no foster care payment.

Lead Read

Kin Prop up Illinois’ Foster Care System, With Limited Support, by Deborah Shelton, found that as the number of foster homes in Illinois dove sharply, the state leaned heavily on relatives to take care of children the state removed from home. But the number of licensed relatives didn’t change much – the number of unlicensed caregivers, without training and far less financial support, skyrocketed.

Also Read

Sonam Vashi reports on a similar trend in Georgia, where relatives have shouldered the load as the number of kids entering foster care has exploded.

Tom Rawlings, head of Georgia’s child welfare agency: Government is not the best responder to a family crisis. A family is.

Jeremy Loudenback on California’s attempt to license all of its relatives the same way they would foster parents, and the backlog that created.

Michael Fitzgerald on how increased recruitment of relatives has helped Onondaga County, New York, lower its reliance on group homes and other congregate care placements.

Sharon McDaniel, founder of A Second Chance: We need kinship caregivers, and they need a safety net.

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John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change
About John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change 1210 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at