The separation of children from their parents is a traumatic experience for children. Everything possible should be done to keep children with the people who know and care about them best: their family. There are many benefits to placing children with relatives or other kinship caregivers. Doing so can reduce the trauma children experience from being placed with strangers, reinforce the child’s cultural identity, and maintain family and community connections. Research demonstrates that children placed with kin experience increased stability, improved well-being and behavioral health outcomes, and higher levels of permanency over children placed with strangers.
There has been a shift in many child welfare agencies to redesign policies and practices to prioritize kin placement and make it the norm, not the exception. In cases where children need to be removed from their homes, a “kin-first” child welfare agency will seek to make the first placement — and hopefully only placement — with kin, not strangers.