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Nearly 101,000 Pennsylvania children are in the care of extended family members or close family friends, a figure that has more than doubled in the past decade, according to a new KIDS COUNT® report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that examines the growth of “kinship care.”

About 3,500 of those children are in foster care with kinship families and could benefit from a cost-saving proposal included in Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget to provide stronger supports for foster youth.

The KIDS COUNT® report, Stepping Up for Kids: What Government and Communities Should Do to Support Kinship Families, found family members and friends who take on parental responsibilities through kinship care often have limited incomes and struggle to meet the basic needs of children.

In Pennsylvania, the financial challenges facing some families using kinship care can be eased if the commonwealth fully implements the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, which provides states with incentives to improve outcomes for foster youth and promote adoption and legal guardianship.

Under existing state rules, foster parents can receive financial support until a foster youth in their care turns 21, if the youth meets certain educational and/or treatment criteria. Yet similar financial assistance ends at age 18 for families who choose to adopt or act as legal guardians to foster youth.

This disparity can discourage kinship families from adoption or legal guardianship, because it amounts to a financial punishment for making an older foster child a permanent part of the family, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children President and CEO Joan Benso explained.

“Some foster parents – including many providing kinship care - would love to adopt the children in their care, but they cannot afford it because of this financial disincentive,” Benso said. “Thankfully, Governor Corbett has a proposal to fix this problem, and it’s a plan that will save the state and counties money as well.”

As part of his proposed budget for fiscal 2012-13, Gov. Corbett has called on the commonwealth to extend adoption and guardianship subsidies to age 21, the same age limit that exists for foster care support. The governor’s proposal also would allow more youth between ages 18 and 21 to benefit from the support of a foster family in cases where adoption or legal guardianship might not be an option.

Currently, Pennsylvania only extends foster care to age 21 for youth under certain circumstances, such as when a foster youth is working toward a high school diploma, enrolled in post-secondary education or receiving medical treatment. The governor’s proposal would expand the criteria, allowing foster care to continue to age 21 for youth who are enrolled in job training or working at least 80 hours a month.

The KIDS COUNT® report also highlights recommendations for states and communities to take advantage of existing federal funding for these families and to strengthen them and help their kids flourish, avoiding greater costs down the road:

  • Increase their financial stability through TANF-funded programs specifically designed to meet their unique needs.
  • Remove barriers within the child welfare system through policies that formally seek to involve relatives in a child’s care, such as full implementation of Fostering Connections and reforms to foster-home licensing requirements.
  • Establish laws and resources to bolster kinship families by promoting stable housing, access to child health care and community-based services for older relatives.

“The federal government already has a solid framework in place for serving these families, and several states - such as Washington, Arizona and Pennsylvania - have taken steps to actively support extended family and friends as they assume their new caregiving roles,” said Robert Geen, director of family services and systems policy at the Foundation. “Every state and community needs to adopt such changes, especially addressing the needs of lower-income kinship families.”

Stepping Up for Kids includes the latest kinship care data for every state, the District of Columbia and the nation. This information is available at www.aecf.org/kinship.

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Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children will not tolerate any comments containing derogatory, racist or hateful speech and has the right to delete - or refuse to post - any comments that violate this policy.
 
 
 


Sharon
  October 1, 2014 6:28pm

I am raising my nephew who is 6 and my 3 grand children, how do I apply for kinship? And where?
Jean and Billy Leach
  December 7, 2014 8:22pm

I recently held about kinship services I had to retire in order to care for my 2 grandchildren ages now 5 and 7 we have been in support groups for families I am interested in what support your organization has to offer. I'm a grandmother from the old school and feel as through I am lost:(
Celeste
  January 4, 2015 10:07am

I am kinship. I'm formal kinship foster through the Bair foundation. Love them so much. They're so helpful. Give them a call if you're in Pa :) 717-985-6450. Tell them Celeste Jack referred you. They know me by name:) any questions please feel free to contact me at my email. Peanut1219@verizon.net
Anonymous
  March 19, 2015 1:18pm

What financial responsibility does the biological parent have concerning kinship programs?
Doris
  April 13, 2015 2:38pm

I have been raising my grandson since the age of two has had gained legal custody of at age three I would like to no how can I apply for kinship care he is now nine.Philadelphia Pa
dawn nase
  August 29, 2015 3:50pm

Yes my granddaughter is in jail she has to children i am the children greatgrand mothers she said you can help me with suff i live in Souderton pa
John Costantino
  September 15, 2015 8:12am

we currently have 2 children that are in our custody thru permanent kinship...my question is can we adopt them
Michele Scalen
  October 25, 2015 10:19am

I took in my two nieces and a nephew over four years ago they're still caring for them they get welfare medical of assistance. I was wondering if there is any financial help for taking care of them. We are struggling always.
Ann Wilson
  January 10, 2016 2:19am

I see all these questions asked by people but no responses posted back. What is the purpose of your website. I am dealing with a county who is not following the guidelines in trying to locate a fit and willing relative and also want to try and terminate the father's rights. I am the great grand mother.
denise
  January 27, 2016 1:26pm

I am trying to foster (kinship) my nephews 4 children have been through everything all certifications etc and still don't have them. I believe I now need to get legal advice but funds are limited. Any ideas on where to go in PA.
Tracy Hillmab
  February 10, 2016 6:44pm

I have legal custody of my 4yr old nephew,I had him since he was 6 months old,I'm interested in becoming his legal guardian. I will be moving to PA next month,can you please send the paper work to fill out for it.
Patricia
  May 2, 2016 8:26pm

My husband and I are adopting 2 of our grandchildren. We are both 61 and the girls are 5 and 10 years old. We have had full custody of them for 5 years. We live on Pa. Is there any type of support to help us as I had to leave my job 2 years ago because the younger one has health issues. Please let me know who I can contact for more information. Thank you.
Richard Hauser
  May 19, 2016 9:52pm

Today is May 19th 2016 , My name is Richard and my wife is Marianne ,we are from Carbon County , and we recently were approved custody for 2 children through the courts , one is our biological grand daughter , the other is her sibling (brother) . Both parents were last known to be incarcerated in West Virginia and became fugitives of the law . There is a case present in Carbon County for custody and we have both children in our custody living with us. We have signed paper work giving us legal guardianship through the court. How do we apply for financial assistance ?
Louise Foreman
  June 24, 2016 4:22pm

Northumberland County will not honor my homestudy approval by Families United Network. I was approved on April 26, 2016. They refuse to give me over night visitation with my great grand daughter. I desparately need help to make Northumberland County follow the law. If I do not follow the law, I go to Jail. This is happening as a result of a very inexperienced case worker. She has not been on her job a year and is not listening to a home study approval assessment conducted by a 15 year veteran (MSW, LSW) who approved me.
Richard Hauser
  July 14, 2016 3:41pm

We are raising our 2 grand children , one is biological and the other is the sibling to the grand child , we have legal guardianship through court , and will have legal custody through court very soon , are we eligible for assistance and if so how do we apply ? We are in dire need of financial assistant as we foster these children. Can you help us ?
Susan Diehl
  July 21, 2016 9:36am

Where is the help for a family that has kept 2 children out of the foster system because they did it for the right reasons . Now the 2 teenage children desire adoption. We have had the kids for 9 years and kept them from unbelievable harm... Now we asked for kinship adoption benefits and are told because they are not "in the system" they are not elegible . We are not blood relatives, they have a mother who does not want them, fathers in prison they have never met, family members not willing to help.... They want adopted !! We have never received a dime from the system and now we need help for them !!!! They deserve it !!! They SYSTEM has failed them!!! Where do I go for help???
Tiffany Stinger
  September 30, 2016 8:37am

I am raising my goddaughters (8
Jahmia Penn
  October 6, 2016 5:13pm

Hello my name is jahmia and i have been taking care of my cousins for a couple of years now and its getting harder and harder as they get older they mother and father are no where to be found and i can afford nothing its a struggle day by day do you have any information on how to receive kinship care
Nicole boerner
  November 14, 2016 7:53pm

Should your kinship stipen be counted as income?
christina schmid
  January 9, 2017 8:15am

been raising grandaughter with no help from either parent for 2 years she is 7 years old and has been through alot how or what kind of assistance can we get for her to help to make things a little bit better for her and out household
Ryan
  January 18, 2017 12:04pm

We are the legal guardians of our twin 13 year old niece
Mrs. Joyce Vanderhorst-Gamble
  January 30, 2017 12:57pm

I am interested in becoming a kinship care parent. please get in touch with me thanks .