Press Release

One in Four Children Living in Grandfamilies Are African American and African Americans Face Heightened Challenges Including Higher Rates of Infection and Death From COVID-19

New tool elevates cultural strengths and helps organizations better support families

(Washington, DC)—African American children are more likely to live in grandfamilies (aka grandparents and other relatives raising grandchildren, kinship care) than the general population of children.  These children are dramatically overrepresented both in kinship foster care and among grandfamilies who live outside the formal foster care system.

Kinship care is an age-old and traditional practice in African American families and the higher number of African American grandfamilies reflect that strength.

“Grandfamily caregivers give children indelible roots and love that cannot be replicated outside the family,” said Donna Butts, Executive Director of Generations United. “Compared to children in foster care with non-relatives, children raised by relatives are more connected to their cultural identity, experience more stability, have better mental and behavioral health outcomes and a greater sense of belonging.”

However, owing to historic and systemic inequities, there has been a lack of supports and services for African American grandfamilies, particularly those that are culturally appropriate and build on family strengths.  This absence of supports has become more apparent during the COVID-19 public health emergency that disproportionately impacts African Americans. The pandemic hits grandfamilies especially hard since many caregivers are older and at heightened risk of illness or death if exposed to the virus. They cannot separate themselves from the children they are raising who, without them, would be in foster care.

Generations United’s new tool kit, funded by the W.K.Kellogg Foundation, provides essential information to help organizations better serve African American grandfamilies during this incredibly challenging time and into the future including:

  • Practice and policy recommendations for addressing systemic racism and biases that limit existing supports to African American grandfamilies and the children they raise
  • Cultural context, including the effects of post-traumatic slave syndrome, intercultural beauty issues, and the importance of religion and spirituality
  • The benefits of preserving and restoring cultural identity and strategies for providing culturally appropriate services

Download the toolkit:

Generations United partnered with A Second Chance Inc. on the initiative that informed this toolkit and released a parallel toolkit with the National Indian Child Welfare Association to help government agencies and nonprofits address systemic racism and better serve American Indian and Alaska Native grandfamilies in culturally appropriate ways.

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About Generations United: