How Kinship Care Transformed Allegheny County’s Child-Welfare System

Once one of the worst agencies of its kind in the country, the office of Children, Youth and Families is now a model of success. 

In 1993, Sharon McDaniel saw an opportunity.

The need was dire, but McDaniel felt that her career had built up to that moment — the opportunity to tackle a desperately broken part of Allegheny County operations. McDaniel wanted to create a kinship care agency for the county’s cratered foster care system.

In those days, Allegheny County’s child-welfare systems had earned a reputation as among the worst in the nation. High-profile contentious cases and child deaths kept the embattled system in the national spotlight. Children and Youth Services (CYS) had so many violations they could only get six-month provisional licenses from the state.

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