Initial Kinship Certification

As you may know, it is necessary for you to become certified/licensed as a kinship caregiver by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. There are certain requirements that must be met in order for your home to be certified. These requirements include:

  • Working smoke detectors on each level.
  • Running water with a working sink or bathtub.
  • A working toilet.
  • A working heating system when seasonally appropriate.
  • A working telephone.
  • A fire extinguisher in the kitchen or any other cooking area.
  • An appropriate sleeping area designated for the child, meeting the following criteria: 
    • No unsuitable area such as a hall, stairway, unfinished attic or basement, garage, bathroom, eating area, closet, shed or detached building may be used as a sleeping area for children. 
    • Kinship children of the opposite sex who are 5 years of age or older may not share the same bedroom. 
    • Each kinship child shall be provided with a clean, comfortable mattress and clean linens, blankets and pillows.
  • The kinship care home may not have exposed electrical wiring or structural damage that would be detrimental to the child’s health and safety.
  • Kinship caregivers must be at least 21 years of age. 
  • Anyone aged 17 and older residing in the kinship caregiver’s home:
    • Must complete and sign applications for written State Police and Child Abuse clearances. 
    • Must complete a Title 18 disclosure form.
    • Verbal clearance(s) for all adults in the household must be obtained from ChildLine. If there is any prior history of abuse, emergency placement may not occur.
    • The Allegheny County Children, Youth and Families database must be searched. If there is a prior history of involvement with the department, emergency placement may not occur.

Kinship caregivers must participate in an assessment as to their ability to address the needs of children being placed with them and assure their safety and well-being. The assessment includes but is not limited to: 

  • The ability to provide care, nurturing and supervision to children.
  • A demonstrated stable mental and emotional adjustment. 
  • Supportive community ties with family, friends and neighbors. 
  • Providing an autobiography and references as part of the home study.
  • Completing medical and TB testing.
  • Providing 10 years financial background and submitting current income verification.
  • Detail existing family relationships, attitudes and expectations regarding the kinship caregiver’s own children and parent/child relationships, especially as they might affect a kinship child. 
  • Demonstrating the ability to accept the kinship child’s relationship with his or her own parents. 
  • Demonstrating the ability to care for children with special needs, such as physical handicaps and emotional disturbances, if applicable. 

Kinship caregivers must participate in an initial orientation that addresses the following:

  • Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth and Families (ACCYF)/agency philosophy. 
  • ACCYF/agency practices.
  • ACCYF/agency discipline policy.
  • First aid.
  • The role of kinship parenting.
  • Roles of the kinship family care agency in assisting the kinship caregiver(s) in serving children.
  • Applicable statutes, regulations and general procedures.
  • Reporting of critical and unusual incidents.
  • Prudent parenting.
  • S.A.R.K.S. training.

Act 160

In 2004, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania passed Act 160, which requires additional information from kinship caregivers in order for certification to occur, including:

  • Previous addresses within the last 10 years.
  • Composition of the resident family unit.
  • Protection from abuse orders filed by or against either parent. 
  • Details of any proceedings brought in family court, provided such records are accessible to the agency.
  • Drug- or alcohol-related arrests, criminal charges or judicial proceedings that are pending and/or any convictions or hospitalizations within the last five years. If an applicant provides information about convictions or hospitalizations within that five-year period, information on the prior five years shall be requested related to additional convictions or hospitalizations.
  • Evidence of financial stability including income verification, employment history, current liens, credit history and bankruptcy filings within the last 10 years.
  • Number and ages of kinship children and other dependents currently placed in the home.
  • Detailed information about children with special needs currently living in the home.
  • Previous history as a kinship caregiver, including number and types of children served.
  • Related education, training or personal experience working with kinship children or the child welfare system.