Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Policy and Leadership

First Committee Member

Jessica Word

Second Committee Member

Christopher Stream

Third Committee Member

Patricia Cook-Craig

Fourth Committee Member

Elizabeth Maltby

Number of Pages



Children in nonparental care have worse outcomes than children in the general population, Federal child welfare policy has prioritized kinship care in an effort to improve outcomes for children; however, it is unclear if the intended child outcomes are achieved. Research shows outcomes vary depending on the type of nonparental family with whom a child lives, due in part to relationship but also to access to services and child welfare system supports. This research defines first five nonparental family types and then uses the framework of ecological systems theory to examine if state laws and child welfare policy influence the formation of nonparental family types. State policies around placement, diversion, mandatory licensing and subsided guardianship were all shown to have significant associations with nonparental family types. Suggestions for future research for each policy variable are provided as well recommendations for future research to further clarify how federal child welfare policy can improve outcomes for children.


Child welfare policy; Federal law; Foster care; Kinship care; Nonparental care; State law


Public Policy | Social Work



Available for download on Sunday, May 15, 2022