European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 200–207 | Cite as

A comparison of mental health problems in kinship and nonkinship foster care

  • Amy HoltanEmail author
  • John A. Rønning
  • Bjørn Helge Handegård
  • André Sourander



Knowledge of the emotional and behavioural problems of children in kinship foster care is scarce.No data on such problems in European countries have been published. This study compares child psychiatric problems and placement characteristics of children living in kinship and nonkinship foster care.


A total of 214 children in kinship and nonkinship foster care, aged 4–13, participated in the study. The Child Behavioral Checklist (CBCL) was completed by their foster parents and demography and placement information was collected.


Of the nonkinship group, 51.8 % scored above the borderline on the CBCL Total Problem score, as did 35.8% of the kinship group. The kinship group had fewer previous placements, were more often fostered within their local community and had more contact with their biological parents. Kinship foster parents had lower social status, in terms of educational level.Variables significantly related to high level of the CBCL Total problems score were male gender and location of foster home outside community of birth family. Positive outcome was significantly associated with placement within the child’s own community, which in turn was related to kinship placement.


Placement in kinship foster care should be considered as a viable possibility.

Key words

kinship foster care foster-care children CBCL 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy Holtan
    • 1
    Email author
  • John A. Rønning
    • 1
  • Bjørn Helge Handegård
    • 1
  • André Sourander
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Tromsø, Dept. of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryTromsøNorway

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