Hélie S, Poirier M-A, Lavergne C, Dorval A, Lamothe, J. (2022). Factors Associated with Reunification and Placement Move for Children Placed in Kinship Care Under the Age of Thirteen. Child Abuse and Neglect, 130(3), 105357.
Background: When a child needs to be placed in substitute care by child protection services, social workers are encouraged to use kinship care (KC), mainly because of the greater stability associated with it. However, current state of knowledge on reunification and placement stability is essentially based on studies that combined children in KC and children in other types of substitute care setting.
Objectives: This paper aims to describe longitudinally the placement trajectory of children placed in KC and to identify the factors associated with the type of exit from KC (move to another substitute care setting or reunification).
Method: All children in a Québec child protection services agency who started a KC placement in 2014-15 under the age of 13 are observed for three years (N = 172). Data come from the child’s casefile and from telephone questionnaires with the caseworker at the beginning and at the end of placement (or at the end of observation if the child has not exited).
Results: Several children remained in the same KC setting during the observation (39%). The others were reunified (34%) or moved to another substitute setting (27%). Multivariate regression analyzes indicated that reunification was mostly determined by higher frequency of parent-child contacts, less registrations in clinical programs and absence of parental mental health problems, while placement move was mostly associated with placement beginning as provisional measure, higher frequency of parent-child contacts and presence of parental mental health problems.
Conclusions: This study highlights determinants of stability and permanency that may be specific to kinship placements.