Sharon L. McDaniel Named a Nonprofit Leader in Social Work

September 25, 2019

B. Denise Hawkins

PITTSBURGH—Sharon L. McDaniel, MPA, Ed.D., will receive the 2018 Social Work Day on the Hill Outstanding Individual in the Nonprofit Sector Award. The award, presented by the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy and the 2018 Social Work Day on the Hill Planning Committee, recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to promoting the principles and values of the social work profession in the pursuit of social and economic justice through their work with congress or government. She will be honored during a reception at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. on March 21.

Dr. McDaniel is the president and CEO of A Second Chance, Inc. (ASCI), a licensed foster care agency that meets the unique needs of kinship families in Pennsylvania’s two largest counties, Allegheny and Philadelphia. She opened ASCI in 1994, a decade into her career as a children’s advocate and director in Pittsburgh. ASCI continues to be the only provider in the country that specializes in child welfare-involved kinship families. Recognizing that kinship families needed an approach that was different from the way traditional foster care is provided, the Department of Human Services (DHS) in Allegheny County partnered with ASCI. The agency is able to license 93 percent of its kinship families so that they have access to needed financial resources and a host of other supports, while providing birth parents with services to help them regain custody of their children. DHS now places more than 60 percent of the children in foster care with kin and achieves permanence in 89 percent of its cases. 

Growing up, Dr. McDaniel was one of those children. Most of her caretakers weren’t the strangers often associated with foster care; instead they were close family friends and people who were like family. In her book, “On My Way Home: A Memoir of Kinship, Grace,” she writes about those early years, lessons learned and offers recommendations for innovative and progressive change in child welfare systems.