MLAs heard a plea for kinship carers to receive the same same support and allowances provided for foster parents, on 17 April 2012.
The DUP's Michelle McIlveen explained that one third of looked-after children in Northern Ireland lived in kinship care arrangements.
Kinship carers are family members, often grandparents, who look after children because their parents are unable to do so.
Miss McIlveen said care was mostly provided by grandparents and older siblings.
Sue Ramsey, chairperson of the health committee, said family members became kinship carers because their instincts told them it was better for the child not to be taken into the care of the social services.
These were often casual arrangements, she added. The vast majority of kinship carers were unlikely to come into contact with the social services and were not receiving the support they required.
This was partly due to fear, Ms Ramsey explained, citing an example where social services threatened to remove a number of children because their carers had not bought a fireguard.
The debate continued after lunch.
You can see the concluding part of the debate