Sometimes, when people outside of the system picture a young person in foster care, they see a child completely alone - with nothing and no one to offer support. And in some cases, that may be true. Children of all ages enter foster care with no other relatives to turn to and unable to go back to their parents/guardians.
However, there are many youth who, when removed from their homes, are able to move in with a grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, etc. They are still in foster care but a form of foster care called kinship care. Kinship care is in fact the preferred placement for children when safe and able. According to Aysha E. Schomburg, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau, “As foster care is a support to families, children should stay with family when possible. In many cultures, the "village" approach has been a longstanding value, and extended family is important to the development of children who feel surrounded by love and the continuation of cultural traditions.”
That’s not to say that kinship care negates the trauma experienced by young people in foster care. Nor is it always the right option. But when it is, kinship care can help children and adolescents process and address the experience of foster care and, ideally, offer them ongoing love, support, acceptance, safety and family.