Kinship foster care replaces a traditional, private African American family arrangement with a similar structure that is regulated by state child welfare agencies. Formal kinship care often involves relinquishing custody of children in exchange for services and benefits that families need, and state payments for kinship caregiving are correlated to the level of state supervision of caregivers. Incorporating kinship care into the child welfare system, moreover, sometimes disrupts family ties. This onerous price exacted from poor black families for public assistance stems from the failure of more general support for caregiving and demonstrates the need for fundamental change in our philosophy of care.

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