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Foster Care and Kinship Care

As of April 4, 2014 

Children receiving services through CYF 4,068
Children in out-of-home placement (total) 1,422
Children in foster care 1,134
Children placed with "kin" 715
DHS and Out-of-home Placements

DHS makes every effort to keep families safely together.  

The vast majority of children / families receiving services through CYF do so while their families stay intact and receive services in their home and in their community.  

Out-of-home placement is defined by DHS as a temporary home for a child or youth who, for safety reasons, must live away from his or her parent(s). Out-of-home placement includes congregate care and the family setting of foster (and kinship) care.

The vast majority of children in out-of-home placement are in foster care.

The majority of children in foster care are with kin (extended family or close friends of their family) with practically all siblings placed together.

Relatively few children are living in congregate settings.

Since 1996, the number of children in Allegheny County in out-of-home placement has been reduced by more than half. The amount of time a child spends in out-of-home placement has been reduced by one third to about 16 months over the same time period.

Kinship care

If a child is removed from his or her home because safety can not be assured, every effort is made to find a safe and loving “kinship” placement with relatives or close friends within the home community. Subsidies and supports are directed to these providers of “kinship care.” Sibling groups are also placed together whenever possible.

pdf.gif Stepping Up for Children - what government and communities should do to support kinship families
Examines the challenges and rewards of providing kinship care and makes suggestions to improve the circumstances in kinship families to promote better outcomes for children. Allegheny County is spotlighted on page 11.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, May 2012 

pdf.gif  Kinship Care in Pa. - Support for Families with Grandparents and Other Kin Raising Children
Published by The Pennsylvania State University, 2005 

Foster care

Foster care is…  

  • caring for a child until his or her parent(s) can resume full responsibility, or until another permanent home is found.
  • a commitment to help a child through a difficult period.
  • for people who can provide love and guidance... and then let go.

We need loving, supportive foster families in Allegheny County…
to provide a temporary home for children of all ages who have been removed from their birth families most often due to abuse or neglect. Children who are welcomed by a supportive foster family are more likely to have a secure and successful future.

Foster parents are adults who…  

  • are married or single;
  • represent all races, ethnicities and religions;
  • are willing to provide for all the needs of a child in care;
  • have a desire to help a child succeed; and
  • are willing to accept a child as a temporary member of their family.

What types of situations lead to a child needing foster care? 

  • Physical and sexual abuse
  • Neglect or abandonment
  • Physical or mental illness of a parent
  • Death of parents
  • Emotional or behavioral problems

What types of children need foster care? 

Children who need foster care are of every race, religion and cultural background. They have different likes and dislikes, talents and skills. Often more than one child in a family needs foster care. Every effort is made to keep sibling groups intact.  

What requirements must be met to be eligible to provide foster care? 

PDF Icon Adoption and Fostering Requirements 

What are the rewards of providing foster care? 

While a stipend is provided to foster parents to help defray the costs of caring for their foster child, the true reward is knowing that they have given a child comfort, guidance, security and a loving home. 

Local foster care agencies

For more information on how to become a foster parent, please contact one of the local agencies that are looking for loving, responsible adults to provide temporary care to children in the child welfare system.

Related Information

PDF Icon CYF/PNC Subsidy Payment Debit Card Frequently Asked Questions
All subsidy payments for CYF placement services (foster care, adoption, permanent legal custodianship, and independent living) will be paid using a PNC Bank Debit Card beginning in August 2013. Learn more about this by reviewing the list of FAQs above.  

 pdf.gif Know Your Rights - A Guide for Youth in Substitute Care
      by the Juvenile Law Center and KidsVoice

My Life: Stories from Youth in Allegheny County’s Child Welfare System
Young adults who live in foster care face many challenges, particularly as they transition from out-of-home placement to independence. Given the opportunity, youth in the child welfare system offer great insights about how their lives were shaped by the services they received and by the absence of needed services. DHS tapped into this valuable resource and created My Life.

What's Happening in Dependency Court - An Activity Book for Children Going to Court in Pennsylvania
Young children who are removed from their birth families due to abuse or neglect can find helpful information in this age-appropirate booklet.  Foster and kinship parents may find it a useful tool to help children understand what is happening in their lives. Available as a pdf and for order on the Pa. Office of Children and Families in the Courts website