Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Political Science


Anna Zajicek

Committee Member

Valerie Hunt

Second Committee Member

Brinck Kerr, III


Social sciences, Arkansas relative caregivers, Biological custodial children, Experiences of relative caregivers, Intersectionality, Relative caregivers


An increase in the provision of long-term care by relative caregivers to custodial children has brought attention to the physical, emotional, and Social challenges of this complex caregiving experience. Prior studies have examined separate structural identities that focus on comparing the quality of life, educational status, Social status, and income of grandparent custodial caregivers. To extend this research, it is important to explore the gaps in service provisions to relative caregivers; comparative viewpoints of relative caregivers and service providers regarding policies and practices; and heterogeneity among Black relative caregivers utilizing an intersectional framework. Face-to-face or telephone interviews were conducted with 30 Black relative caregivers and 10 service providers. The findings are organized under four topics: (a) reasons for assumption of care and types of relative caregiving arrangements, (b) relative caregiving experiences with custodial children and biological parents, (c) comparative relative caregiver and service provider experiences with policies and practices that are connected to public income assistance and child welfare, and (d) the interplay of race, class, and gender in shaping the experiences of Black caregivers. The findings suggest a need for action to be taken among government agencies, policymakers, teachers, counselors, health professionals, along with community members to engage the voices of relative caregivers while developing policy alternatives to assist them in the provision of care to custodial children.