Kinship care: Child safety or easy option? Staff and carers’ perspectives

Carol Irizarry, Keith Miller, Margaret Bowden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Formal kinship care continues to grow in Australia, demanding more research into its characteristics and organizational practice. This research aimed to gain a better understanding of kinship care, its practice issues, and its role in the South Australian alternative care system. Quantitative and qualitative methods, including an online staff survey (n = 81), staff focus groups (n = 56), and interviews and focus groups with Aboriginal (n = 11) and non-Aboriginal (n = 33) kinship carers were used to gain insight into staff and carers’ experiences of kinship care, and of working with each other and the care organization. Descriptive statistics and thematic analyses generated the findings. All participants focused on achieving child safety and the child’s best interests through kinship care. They agreed that kinship care is a valuable, but complex and under-resourced alternative to foster care. They called for more training and support for kinship carers and staff to develop mutual respect and trust to effectively address kinship care’s unique, complex, family, community, and cultural issues. The research concluded that greater resources, organizational support, and sharing and valuing of diverse knowledge and experience are needed to facilitate safe, stable kinship care that is also in the child’s best interests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-219
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Family Social Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2016


  • Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal kinship carers’ experiences
  • child safety
  • child’s best interests
  • foster care
  • kinship care
  • practice perspectives


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