After being forced into foster care at an early age, ASCI founder Dr. Sharon L. McDaniel is now a nationally known expert, successful business entrepreneur and pioneer and advocate for kinship care. Her book On My Way Home: A Memoir of Kinship, Grace, and Hope underscores the purpose of kinship care, empowering families to save the lives of their children.
This intimate account of her life begins when she was only 6 years old and removed from the care of her young, widowed father, separated from her brother and sister and forced into the child welfare system in Pittsburgh. Before emancipating at age 17, her journey was one of finding home—a quest that unknowingly became her life’s calling.
Despite the pain of her situation, she credits kin with helping her become strong, resilient and confident enough to survive the harsh realities of life in the foster care system during the ’60s and ’70s.
Hers is a revealing story of extending kinship status beyond those related by blood or marriage to fictive kin, who are essential to family preservation.
When asked about the book, Marc Cherna, Director of Allegheny County Department of Human Services, stated, “What I like is that as the county’s sole kinship care provider, Sharon McDaniel was doing something that I had never seen before. Her agency, A Second Chance, Inc., boldly wanted to address kinship care issues by developing a grassroots expertise to help families. Her work went against the grain that the government had to be the problem-solver.”
Dr. McDaniel’s book depicts a life story rich in the cultural traditions many African American families created in their own kin-networks of support, and reveals how these customs and practices can be used today to move forward families of all cultures.
“Kinship care is a very personal story for me,” says Dr. McDaniel. Without kinship care, my life would have been drastically different. I chose this time to tell my story because I believe the stage has been set to motivate our country into a new wave and new consciousness of kinship care. In my heart, I personally know that kinship care can change the face of child welfare for families.”