Kinship Caregivers’ Age and Its Relationship With Stress and Strain: Risk or Protective Factor?

Qi Wu, Nancy Mendoza, Ramona W. Denby, Amanda Klein-Cox, Hanna Haran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study compares kinship caregivers ages 65 and over and those under 65 to test the assumption that older caregivers experience greater stress and strain, which adversely affects the care they provide to their relatives’ children. Method: A sample of 747 informal and formal kinship caregivers completed mailed surveys. We used propensity score analysis to balance the two comparison groups of caregivers on multiple controlled covariates. We then conducted regression models with propensity score adjustments to examine the relationship between caregivers’ age and their stress or strain. Results: Kinship caregivers ages 65 and older had an average strain score that was 2.61 points lower than the score for those under age 65 (B 5 22.61, p < .001). Additionally, several covariates (e.g., educational attainment, number of children in one’s care, and family involvement) showed significant relationships with caregiver strain levels. Conclusion: We found no significant differences between younger and older caregivers in childrearing abilities, which provides evidence contradicting the assumption that older caregivers are less capable than younger caregivers when it comes to raising their relatives’ children. Considering the resilient and protective nature of kinship caregivers’ age, we suggest policy, programming, and research implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-303
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of the Society for Social Work and Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • caregiver age
  • child welfare
  • kinship care
  • stress and strain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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