Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type



School for Social Work


Community Coalition (Los Angeles Calif.), Self-help groups, Kinship care, Caregivers, Power (Social science), Support groups, Peer-to-peer support group, Kinship care providers, Empowerment, Self-advocacy


The purpose of this study was to explore how peer support groups influence kinship care providers’ (KCPs’) sense of self-worth and empowerment, and how they impact KCPs’ ability to advocate on behalf of the children in their care. Few studies to date have examined self-worth in the realm of KCPs’ parenting issues of guilt and regret, nor have they explored whether support group participation encourages relearning parenting skills and therefore instills a sense of empowerment. Although the majority of KCPs in the United States are informal care providers, most prior research on this population focused on formal kinship care providers; this study included both formal and informal caregivers.

Thirteen KCPs who belong to a support group formed under the auspices of a community agency in South Los Angeles were interviewed for this study; participants were female and predominantly African American, with a median age of 64 years. Agency staff who worked with these caregivers were guided by a mission statement engendering community activism and advocacy. Major findings indicated that KCPs gained a sense of empowerment through increased knowledge from invited speakers and through emotional support from their group counterparts, thus improving their navigation of the child welfare system and increasing their connections to others. This study confirmed the value of peer support groups for KCPs. Further, it underscored the need for social workers to be sensitive to issues of racism within the child welfare system and to encourage KCPs to bring these issues to the support group.




iii, 90 pages. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 70-78)

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Social Work Commons