Family dynamics in kinship care

Lillian Rose, Emily P. Taylor*, Simona Di Folco, Melanie Dupin, Heather Mithen, Zhanhui Wen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Kinship care is the first choice for out-of-home care in the United Kingdom. Family context is described as both a strength and a weakness of kinship care arrangements with limited research examining how kinship carers understand and experience their family dynamics; the focus of this study. Data was harvested from 106 interaction reports with 63 kinship carers who accessed a Kinship Care Helpline in Scotland over a two-month period. Three themes and several subthemes were identified: Balancing Act; Agency and Control; Changing Families. Data showed that kinship carers were managing complex family dynamics organised around welfare of the child, in which carers had to facilitate contact with birth parents that were sometimes perceived as posing a risk to the child. Carers described having to manage their own feelings about birth parents’ behavior and its effect on children. The demands of meeting the child’s needs on carer wellbeing was described as a balancing act, negatively impacted upon by limited control over decision making. Kinship carers showed resilience in navigating complex, sometimes distressing family dynamics in their drive to provide a stable and positive environment for the child, compromised by ongoing exposure to threats and lack of control over decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-645
Number of pages11
JournalChild & Family Social Work
Issue number4
Early online date10 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • kinship care
  • family dynamics
  • family resilience
  • parent contact
  • helpline


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