Kinship care and child protection in high-income countries: a scoping review

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Kinship care is a global phenomenon with a long history, which in high-income countries (HICs) at least, is being increasingly formalized through legislation and policy. There are many benefits to kinship care, including improved child mental health and well-being when compared to other types of out-of-home care. Despite this, kinship care is not without its risks with a lack of support and training for kinship carers putting children at an increased risk of abuse and neglect. This scoping review was conducted across 11 databases to explore the breadth and depth of the literature about abuse and neglect within kinship care in HICs and to provide initial indications about the relationship between kinship care and abuse. Of the 2,308 studies initially identified, 26 met the inclusion criteria. A majority of studies were from the United States, and most used case review methods. From the included studies, rates of re-abuse, and particularly rates of physical and sexual abuse, appear to be lower in kinship care settings when compared to other out-of-home care settings, but rates of neglect are often higher. This review has demonstrated that a small but significant number of children living in kinship care experience neglect or abuse.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalTrauma, Violence, & Abuse
Early online date3 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • child abuse
  • intergenerational transmission of trauma
  • neglect
  • prevention of child abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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