Kinship care

Kinship care is when grandparents, aunts, uncles, adult siblings, other relatives or friends of the family care for children instead of their birth parents. 1 in 10 children worldwide are living in kinship care. In some countries, it is as high as 1 in 3. This makes it the most common type of care, after parental care – and it’s time it was better supported by governments worldwide.
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The issue

Globally, although an estimated 1 in 10 children live in kinship care arrangements, support for these families is often neglected by governments and other support mechanisms. Nevertheless, kinship care is neglected by governments and policymakers. It is often taken for granted, and, much of the time, no support is given to kinship carers.

Despite the value of kinship care, when it is poorly supported, both children and caregivers are highly vulnerable. Research suggests that support needs for kinship families include emotional support, poverty alleviation, access to education and other services, practical support for caregivers, and more.

What we’re doing

We run projects to support kinship care families around the world. In Zimbabwe for example, 60 per cent of orphans and vulnerable children are cared for in grandparent-headed households, usually by grandmothers; and our programme supports incomes and provides psychosocial support. In Brazil, we work with techniques to map extended family relations to explore ways in which children can be supported to stay with people they know instead of going into institutional care.

Our local teams have also worked together to produce valuable international research on kinship care, a topic which needs further understanding to be properly resourced. And together, we are continuing to work with local, regional and national organisations that have the power to shape kinship care policy for the better.

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What needs to be done

Kinship care often provides a brighter future for children, but a lack of governmental support means it isn’t always a viable option. This can mean children are separated from family who might be able to care for them.

That’s why we’re calling on governments worldwide to:

  • Invest in kinship care research: In order to better understand kinship care in their country and learn what’s needed to support kinship care families
  • Prioritise kinship care: Make sure that children who cannot be cared for by their parents have the chance to be cared for by their extended family first 
  • Provide support to kinship care families: Develop a package of psychosocial, financial, educational and child protection services and support and make it available to those who need it  

Get involved

Our Changemakers for Children platform is a space for local people working with children and families to collaborate for children’s rights. We have a specific community on the site that is exploring kinship care. We encourage any professional working with children and families worldwide to join, so together we can tackle this complex issue.

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Related projects

Kinship care in New Zealand

Kinship care in New Zealand

Supporting orphaned and vulnerable children through kinship care in Zimbabwe

Supporting orphaned and vulnerable children through kinship care in Zimbabwe

The importance of kinship care and the impact of COVID-19

The importance of kinship care and the impact of COVID-19