Doctors have discovered through a large-size study children who are being raised by relatives struggle with physical and mental health issues, as would a child in and out of foster care.
Dr. Eleoff, from the University Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, along with her colleagues, conducted studies on more than 91,000 children living in kinship car. The kids in the study ranged in ages from birth and 17. The data was gathered from a national survey conducted in 2007. Researchers then compared children living in kinship conditions to children living with at least one birth parent.
“Children who live in kinship care with a relative have more special health care needs, mental health problems such as ADHD and depression, and dental problems compared with children who live with their parents,” said Dr. Eleoff.
The study is alarming when taking into account that 2.8 million children live with relatives. The amount for children in foster care averages about 800,000. The profile of children in kinship care appear as the following:
- 48 percent of these children are more likely to be black
- 59 percent are older than 9 years of age
- 72 percent are on pubic health insurance
- 31 percent live in households at or near poverty levels
- Research states that caregivers frequently report having fair and even poor overall health or mental health (no percentage provided)
Dr. Eleoff, in her opinion, brings to light an oversight by child welfare agencies that only currently account for children in foster care. However, believes that this emerging new population is in equal need of attention.
“These children and their families may need additional services and supports,” Dr. Eleoff said. “Therefore, health care providers, educators and public health agencies should ask about children’s living situations and consider the risk of special needs among children in kinship care.”