Kinship Care Awareness: Four Things to Know

Kinship care refers to caregivers — grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, adult siblings, and even family friends — who make the selfless choice to take on traditional parenting responsibilities when biological parents cannot. 

The Pennsylvania KinConnector program works in all 67 counties of the commonwealth to uplift these families by providing education, support, and resources to grandparents and other relatives who are raising children. The KinConnector helpline (1-866-KIN-2111) is staffed by knowledgeable, compassionate social service professionals with access to these much-needed resources.

In the United States, there are more than 2.7 million children living with relatives. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 200,000 children are in kinship care. Often, when a child enters foster care, child welfare agencies will first turn to that child’s relatives for placement. This is done to help the child maintain important connections with within the family. In honor of National Kinship Care Month, this is the perfect time to celebrate and support all of Pennsylvania’s kinship families. 

4 Things to Know about Kinship Care In Pennsylvania

1. There are two types of kinship care.

There’s informal kinship care, as well as formal kinship care. Some children might be placed with their relatives privately (informal), while others are formally placed in kinship care by a child welfare agency (public kinship care or kinship foster care).

2. There are many reasons why children end up in kinship care.

In recent years, the opioid epidemic and parental substance use has caused an increase in the need for kinship care, but it is just one of many reasons that kinship families come together. Other reasons kinship families form might include parental military deployment, incarceration, mental or physical illness, and death. Whatever the cause, when parents are unable to care for their children, these caregivers often step in at a moment’s notice to keep families together.

3. A biological parent can still maintain a connection with their child during kinship care.

Learn more: Parental Roles

When biological parents are not able to take on the traditional responsibilities of parenting, there are a number of roles they can assume that match their abilities, and allow them to maintain a positive connection with their children.

4. There are resources available to kinship caregivers

Find Kinship Services available in your County

PA KinConnector helps to assist kinship caregivers by providing information on financial assistance, legal information and referrals, and other issues caregivers face when raising children to provide stability and permanency in the home.

Resources available to Kinship Families

Behavioral Health Services
Child care
Find Child Care & Other Early Learning Programs — PA KinConnector
Child Care Works Subsidized Child Care Program —  DHS
PA 211 Family Resources
PA 211 Clothing & Household Resources 
Food Assistance
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — DHS
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — DHS
National School Lunch Program — PA Dept. of Education
PA 211 Food Assistance Resources 
Health Care Services
Medical Assistance (Medicaid) — DHS
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — DHS
Financial Services
Unemployment Compensation  — PA. Dept. of Labor and Industry
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) — DHS
Housing Resources — DHS
PA 211 Housing & Shelter 
Legal services
DHS Legal Resources 
PA 211 Legal Services 
Senior Law Center  
School Support
Early Childhood Education — DHS
Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRC)  — The Pennsylvania Key 
Online Resources for Families — PA Dept. of Education 
Support for Families
Virtual Support Groups — PA KinConnector 
Kinship Family Trainings — PA KinConnector
Training for Child Care Professionals — PA KinConnector
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of A Second Chance, Inc.

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