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Title:The relationship between caregiving stress and child well-being among informal and formal kinship care families
Author(s):Lin, Ching-Hsuan
Director of Research:Havlicek, Judy R.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Havlicek, Judy R.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Wu, Chi-Fang; Liechty, Janet M.; Wiley, Angela R.
Department / Program:School of Social Work
Discipline:Social Work
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Kinship care family
Child well-being
Caregiving stress
Social engagement
Family resilience
Abstract:The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between caregiving stress and child well-being (i.e., child health and emotional/behavioral problems) among informal and formal kinship care families. This study also examines the role of kinship caregivers’ social engagement (i.e., weekly participation in volunteer activities and/or religious services) in the relationship with child well-being. A secondary aim of this study is to examine the variations across the two kinship care families: informal vs. formal kinship families. Kinship families are presumed to be a less disruptive and the least restrictive family-like environment for children whose parent(s) are not able to provide caregiving. However, kinship families have been found to present a profile with difficulties and limited support which raises significant concerns regarding the well-being of children in the care of kinship caregivers. Children in kinship families can be particularly vulnerable and may require additional supports, especially under a policy context that limited financial aids are available for poor families and caregivers who are experiencing greater stress without reliable support from social relationships. To examine the research questions, this study is based on a secondary data analysis using data from a national cross-sectional survey, the 1999 and 2002 National Survey of America’s Families (NSAF). The data include information on the health, economic, and social dimensions of well-being of U.S. children and families from a nationally representative probability sample of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population. The current study sample includes 1,623 children who were cared for by relatives without a parent present in the household. Informal kinship families (n=1,293) were defined as non-foster kinship care, while formal kinship families (n=330) were defined as foster kinship care. Weighted stepwise multivariate linear regressions are conducted to examine the relationships among caregiving stress (measured by the Parenting Aggravation Scale), child well-being (measured by the child general health perception and the Child Behavior and Emotional Problems Scale), and social engagement (measured by weekly volunteer activity and/or religious service participation). Findings from the study indicate that (1) Informal and formal kinship families present similarities in most demographic and well-being characteristics. Despite this, younger children (aged 6-11) in formal kinship families fared worse in behavioral outcomes than those in informal kinship families. Informal kinship families were more likely to live in poverty but less likely to receive public benefits (e.g., public assistance, food stamps), compared to formal kinship families. (2) Kinship caregiver caregiving stress was not significantly related to child health, but was found to be negatively associated with behavioral outcomes of both younger (aged 6-11) and older children (aged 12-17). (3) Kinship caregiver social engagement, specifically weekly participation in volunteer activities was only positively related to younger children’s behavior (aged 6-11). Weekly participation in volunteer activities also buffered the negative relationship between caregiving stress and children’s behavior. (4) Kinship family type was found to be a moderator of the relationship between caregiving stress and older children’s behavior (aged 12-17). That is, the negative association between caregiving stress and children’s behavioral outcome was stronger for formal kinship families and lessened for informal kinship families. Findings from this study have implications for practice, policy, and research. Based on the findings, practical suggestions are made to increase opportunities for kinship caregivers and children to engage in social activities/relationships within the community. Policy implications regard revisiting the eligibility of public assistance and supportive services for kinship caregivers and families. Future research should also assess and target different factors that are associated with child well-being, stress, and social engagement among a diverse group of kinship families.
Issue Date:2017-06-26
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Ching-Hsuan Lin
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-09-29
Date Deposited:2017-08

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