The self-concept of adolescent girls in non-relative versus kin foster care.

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      This article differentiates between values and facts by collecting data on the self-concept of adolescent girls cared for by kin versus non-relative foster parents. The preference given to placing the child with kin is supported by the ecological approach, that assets the child belongs to the family system. In Israel, data on the well-being of children in foster care compared with the same-age children living with families point to a number of difficulties: children in foster homes feel less secure about their identity and belonging, have a lower self-image and are under-achievers at school. In the United States, kinship care has become the fastest-growing child welfare service, with 30 percent of children in out-of-home care living with relatives. Data on the well being of the children show that in kinship care children experienced less drift but stayed longer in care, as compared with non-relative foster care. Children in non-relative foster care had more developmental problems, more emotional and behavioral problems and more reports of absenteeism and disciplinary problems at school. In view of the advantages and drawbacks of non-relative and kin foster care and the debate, in theory and in practice, between the supporters of one or the other placement alternative, this article aims to shed light on these issues by focusing on the data concerning the phenomenological self of Israeli adolescents placed in non-relative and kin foster care.