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The effectiveness of support groups in increasing social support for kinship caregivers


  • Strozier, Anne L.


Kinship caregivers face a variety of stressors including strains on family resources, legal challenges, conflicts with their own child, and loss of personal time. This paper focuses on the particular stress of reduced social support that grandparents and other relatives often experience. Frequently, kinship caregivers report feeling isolated from friends and family, and feeling unsupported at a time when they are likely to need greater social support. An intervention purported to increase the feeling of social support is the kinship support group. Though widely acclaimed as a valuable intervention, there has been limited research on the support group's actual effectiveness in increasing social support. The current study used the Dunst Family Support Scale (Dunst, Trivette, & Hamby, 1994) to measure how social support changed for kinship caregivers who participated in support groups versus kinship caregivers who did not attend the support groups. Findings indicated that caregivers who attended support groups experienced a significantly greater increase in social support than those caregivers who did not attend the support groups. An additional finding was that kinship caregivers attending the support groups were more likely to increase formal social supports from sources such as parent groups, social groups/clubs, church members, family physician, early childhood programs, school or day care, professional helpers and agencies compared to an increase in informal support such as spouse's parents, relatives, spouse's relatives, spouse, friends, spouse’ friends, and children. Conclusions include the recommendation for continued efforts to find or create the best measure of kinship support group effectiveness as well as continuing efforts to understand informal kinship caregivers about whom much less is known than formal caregivers. A practice recommendation is to continue and even increase the use of kinship support groups because of this beginning evidence of their effectiveness as well as the economy and relative ease in conducting them.

Suggested Citation

  • Strozier, Anne L., 2012. "The effectiveness of support groups in increasing social support for kinship caregivers," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 876-881.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:34:y:2012:i:5:p:876-881
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.01.007

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sheets, Janess & Wittenstrom, Kim & Fong, Rowena & James, Joyce & Tecci, Michael & Baumann, Donald J. & Rodriguez, Carolyne, 2009. "Evidence-based practice in family group decision-making for Anglo, African American and Hispanic families," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(11), pages 1187-1191, November.
    2. Testa, Mark F. & Slack, Kristen Shook, 2002. "The gift of kinship foster care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 79-108.
    3. Strozier, Anne & McGrew, LaSandra & Krisman, Kerry & Smith, Aaron, 2005. "Kinship care connection: A school-based intervention for kinship caregivers and the children in their care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(9), pages 1011-1029, September.
    4. Lindsey A. Baker & Merril Silverstein, 2008. "Preventive Health Behaviors Among Grandmothers Raising Grandchildren," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 63(5), pages 304-311.
    5. Cuddeback, Gary S., 2004. "Kinship family foster care: a methodological and substantive synthesis of research," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(7), pages 623-639, July.
    6. Goodman, Catherine Chase & Potts, Marilyn Kay & Pasztor, Eileen Mayers, 2007. "Caregiving grandmothers with vs. without child welfare system involvement: Effects of expressed need, formal services, and informal social support on caregiver burden," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 428-441, April.
    7. Strozier, Anne L. & Krisman, Kerry, 2007. "Capturing caregiver data: An examination of kinship care custodial arrangements," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 226-246, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gleeson, James P. & Hsieh, Chang-ming & Cryer-Coupet, Qiana, 2016. "Social support, family competence, and informal kinship caregiver parenting stress: The mediating and moderating effects of family resources," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 32-42.
    2. Littlewood, Kerry A. & Strozier, Anne L. & Whittington, Danielle, 2014. "Kin as Teachers: An early childhood education and support intervention for kinship families," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 1-9.
    3. Lin, Ching-Hsuan, 2014. "Evaluating Services for Kinship Care Families: A Systematic Review," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 32-41.

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    Kinship care; Support groups; Social support;


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