Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Melanie Otis


In the United States some 2.3 million children, or 3.1 % of all children, live with relatives or non-relatives in foster care or informal care situations outside the foster care system (Radel et al., 2016). These types of placements are called kinship and result from a variety of issues. Focusing on kinship care providers is important given that placement with strangers is stressful and even traumatic for a child (Vandivere et al., 2012). Vandivere et al. (2012) determined that children in kinship care, such as with grandparents, have better outcomes than children in non-kinship foster care. However, providers experience a number of stressors, such as, social isolation from peers, parenting challenges unique to skip generation families, stress associated with parenting particularly for individuals who have not parented for some time, and their own loss and grief with regard to the feeling that they had failed as a parent. These stressors can impact the placement and the well-being of both the child and provider.

The aim of the study is to expand on the current understanding of factors that predict parenting stress in kinship care providers. Using a model, grounded in Bronfenbrenner and Morris’s (2006) Process-Person-Context-Time (PPCT) model, integrating Life Course Perspective and Chaos, this study explored the relationship of child temperament, combined factors of relationship of the provider to the primary parent and reason for placement, and intensity of parenting tasks to parenting stress in kinship care providers.

Binary logistic regression analysis of 106 kinship care providers was conducted to test several hypotheses: higher emotionality, activity, and shyness will predict greater likelihood of total parenting stress and stress in the subscales; and higher levels of sociability will predict less likelihood of stress in total parenting stress and for the three subscales; relationship and reason will predict greater likelihood of stress in total parenting stress and the three subscales; and the intensity of parenting tasks will predict greater likelihood of stress in total parenting stress and the three subscales.

All models were significant and improved classification of cases. For temperament, sociability was a predictor of total parenting stress; activity, although not in the hypothesized direction, was a predictor of stress in the parental distress subscale; shyness was a predictor of stress in the parent-child dysfunctional interaction subscale; and both emotionality and shyness were predictors of stress in the difficult child subscale. For relationship and reason, that variable was not a predictor of stress for total parenting stress or nor any of the three subscales. Intensity of parenting tasks was a predictor for total parenting stress and each of the three subscales. Open-ended question analysis identified shared and unique categories of related to reason, concerns, and aspects of caring for the kinship care child. The categories confirmed those found in the literature while identifying a new area.

Limitations notwithstanding, findings indicate that child temperament and intensity of parenting tasks are important factors to consider when working with kinship care providers to better understand and address parenting stress.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)