How did kinship care emerge as a significant form of placement for children in care? A comparative study of the experience in Ireland and Scotland

Louise Hill, Robbie Gilligan, Graham Connelly

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A notable development in child welfare provision in recent decades has been growth in certain jurisdictions of formal kinship care as a type of placement for children needing 'out of home' care. This trend raises the question of why formal kinship care has emerged in such a marked way in this period in some contexts. This paper sets out to explore this issue by investigating the emergence and development of formal kinship care in two neighboring jurisdictions in Europe where it now accounts for a substantial proportion of all care placements in Scotland and Ireland. The paper sets out a conceptual framework that considers the emergence of formal kinship care against the backdrop of the overall care systems in both jurisdictions and the wider set of societal kinship care practices relating to children. It traces key policy developments in the evolution of formal kinship care in both systems. It reviews policy challenges and influences that may help to account for the emergence and current relative importance of formal kinship care. This comparative case study aims to contribute to international debates about the development of formal kinship care.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104368
Number of pages25
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Early online date5 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2020


  • kinship care
  • relative care
  • looked-after children
  • Scotland
  • Ireland

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