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The Census Bureau estimates that almost four percent of the nation’s children under 18 live in a household headed by someone other than a parent. An overwhelming majority of these children live with a relative in what is referred to as “kinship care” arrangements in which caregiving is provided by relatives in the absence of a parent. Kinship care affects both sides of the foster care equation—it reduces the number of children entering the foster care system and provides placement for those already in the system. It is estimated that as many as 45-78% of these children need behavioral health services. While children in kinship care arrangements are often eligible for services and programs, their uptake is low compared to other social programs. Only about 20% of relatives caring for children in informal arrangements reported receiving cash assistance.

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