Kinship foster care and the risk of juvenile delinquency

Joseph P. Ryan, Jun Sung Hong, Denise Herz, Pedro M. Hernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Formal kinship care represents the placement of a maltreated or otherwise vulnerable youth in the care and protection of a known relative or adult with a recognized kin bond. The practice of identifying and utilizing kin placements in child welfare has significantly increased over the last two decades. In part, the increased use of kinship care reflects the priorities, preferences, and mechanisms specified in federal legislation. A fairly broad literature demonstrates the value of kin homes in child welfare. Yet significant gaps in the understanding of kin homes remain, especially with regard to youth outcomes across allied service systems. In the current study we use administrative records from a large urban county and propensity score matching to investigate the relationship between kinship care placements in child welfare and the risk of delinquency. The sample (n=13,396) is diverse and our design is longitudinal in that we follow youth through child welfare and juvenile systems for several years. The results indicate that the relative risk of delinquency is significantly greater for African American and white male adolescents served in kin homes. For Hispanic males and Hispanic females, kin homes are associated with a decreased likelihood of delinquency. There is no kin placement effect associated with African American or white females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1823-1830
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Kinship care


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