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Judith Pierlings, Universität Siegen

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Kinship Care in Germany

Kinship care is an important yet underdeveloped and unexplored part of the German child- and youth services. This is a very unsatisfying situation, because relatives or families in the closer social network play an important part in the foster care system; nearly 20% of foster care is carried out by relatives or the closer social network. But this does not even cover all cases, many cases are not officially recognized as foster care (partly formalized cases). Furthermore, many children live with their relatives without ever being in contact with supporting systems (informal cases). Blandow und Küfner (2011) resume that child- and youth services would collapse without the commitment of grandparents, relatives or friends of the families. In sum kinship care is a too important issue of the child protection and child- and youth services to leave it disregarded, it is rather necessary that we gain more knowledge to understand and support kinship care in a more appropriate way.
The foster care research group has recently started to work on kinship care in greater detail. In a first approach (based on literature and interviews with former foster children), we screened potential risks and chances within kinship care. In a second step we clustered these phenomena and developed thereby a map of these risks and chances. In our presentation we would like to present these preliminary results together with potential research questions and discuss it with the international colleagues.