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Foster Care and Kinship Care

As of January 1, 2015

Children receiving services through CYF 3,807
Children in out-of-home placement (total) 1,314
Children in foster care 1,061
Children placed with "kin" 664

If you are interested in fostering, call the Director’s Action Line at 1-800-862-6783 for more information.

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.

Situations that lead to a child needing foster care include…

  • physical and sexual abuse
  • neglect or abandonment
  • physical or mental illness of a parent
  • death of parents
  • emotional or behavioral problems

Children who need foster care…

  • are every race, age, religion, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.
  • have different likes and dislikes, talents and skills.
  • are often in sibling groups, which are kept intact when possible.

If you want to be a foster parent

Foster parents are adults who…
  • are married, single or partnered.
  • are often related to or family friends of the child (kin).
  • represent all races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations and genders.
  • have a desire to help a child succeed.
  • are willing to accept a child, and possibly siblings, as a temporary member of their family.
  • meet the Adoption and Fostering Requirements
Foster parents must be...
  • Flexible. Foster care is usually temporary. Foster parents must be able to let go. In some cases, however, if the child is not able to be returned home safely, the foster parents may be interested in adopting. Every situation is different,, and often unpredictable. 
  • Organized. Foster parents work with the child's team to organize the child's family visits, schoolwork, clinical appointments, CYF meetings, and court appointments. 
  • Team Players. Foster parents collaborate with caseworkers, therapists, doctors, and others. Foster parents welcome service providers into their home and transport children to appointments. Ideally, foster parents can partner with the birth parent(s), as well, and build a positive relationship with them when possible. 
  • Dedicated and Understanding. Children and teens healing from trauma are hurt. They express their hurt as many different times, in many different ways. Foster parents work to respond to these expressions in the best way possible, based on their training and supports. 
Foster parents are required to...
  • meet all state requirements. 
  • undergo a criminal and child abuse background check. 
  • be at least 21 years of age. 
  • complete 15 hours of pre-service training. 
  • demonstrate proof of income. 
No one fosters alone

The Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF), foster care agencies, and many other organizations support foster parents in caring for children and teens. 

Foster parents meet with the child’s team at least quarterly to make plans and manage challenges. Foster parents are given a stipend to defray the cost of caring for the child, and each child is covered by medical and dental insurance. 

Local foster care agencies

In Allegheny County, we contract with nonprofit agencies to recruit foster families. You may contact DHS for a referral, or contact an agency directly. The local agencies listed below are looking for loving, responsible adults to provide temporary care to children in the child welfare system. Every agency is different, so DHS recommends learning about each of the agencies to find the best fit for you. 

The Bair Foundation of Pennsylvania
The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh
Circle C Youth and Family Services
Every Child, Inc.
Families United Network, Inc.
Greater Valley Community Services
Gwen's Girls
Pressley Ridge
Three Rivers Adoption Council, Inc.
Three Rivers Youth
Try-Again Homes
Wesley Spectrum Services

If you live in foster care

You have rights and responsibilities as a person living in an out-of-home placement.  Learn about them in  Know Your Rights - A Guide for Youth in Substitute Care by the Juvenile Law Center and KidsVoice.

Related information

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.

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 

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

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.  

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