Recent changes in kinship care policy produce a range of care-types for grandparents raising their grandchildren, from informal kinship care to adoption. The unprecedented formalization of kinship care, expedited termination of parental rights, and conflict between parents and grandparents over the best interests of children require custodial grandparents to make determinations about care-type, termed “institutional decision making.” Interview data collected from 50 black custodial grandmothers from Chicago are used to reveal how and why parental responses help explain variation in care-types. This article argues that institutional decisions enable custodial grandmothers to achieve family stability by offering them an opportunity to be a safety net of protection to grandchildren, to respond to a range of parental responses that emerge as they work to eradicate child welfare threats, and to navigate institutions. The present study shows that, as parental responses increase in uncertainty and noncompliance, care-types become more formalized.


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pp. 32-56
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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