PITTSBURGH – Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald today announced that the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) has been awarded $1,844,121 from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to help in the recruitment and engagement of foster families, including kinship fostering, for children in the child welfare system. The five-year grant will provide resources for families willing to serve older youth or children with behavioral or medical needs, particularly in communities with high need for resource families. Allegheny County was one of seven sites nationally to receive the grant.
“While Allegheny County has a strong foster care system, we are thankful for the additional opportunities that this funding provides,” said Fitzgerald. “With this money, we will be able to further reduce group care placement and increase placement stability for children.”
The grant will be used to implement a five-part recruitment and engagement strategy, including: identifying needs that exist within the current system; creating a broader network of resource families; using a tool to match children to best-fit families; developing additional training and support for kinship and other foster families; and looking for ways to continuously improve the system.
“DHS has been successful at reducing the number of children in out-of-home care over the past decade, and we want to continue that trend,” said Allegheny County Human Services Director Marc Cherna. “This grant will help us to build and support a resource family network that is better prepared to serve older children, sibling groups and those with special challenges.”
Several project partners have been identified to help carry out the recruitment and engagement strategy, including the Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth & Family Services, Allegheny Family Network, and the University of Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center.
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