Study: Kinship care plays key role in Pa.’s child welfare system | Thursday Morning Coffee

February 18, 2021 7:14 am

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

The world is filled with loving foster parents who work hard to give the children in their care a better life. And those results only improve when those caregivers are immediate family members such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, and siblings, a new report concludes.

That system, known as ‘kinship care,’ results in children experiencing “better outcomes in several areas including placement stability; school stability and positive educational outcomes; increased likelihood of living with or staying connected to siblings; and greater preservation of race and cultural identity, including community connections,” the new report by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, a statewide advocacy group concludes.

“Family connection provides one of the most important contributions to the development and identity of children. A child’s family connections help them grow and thrive, provide them identity and security, and are a critical link to culture and traditions,” the advocacy group’s president and CEO, Kari King, said in a statement. “When a child’s life is disrupted, calling on the support of family is custom in most communities and can be a great source of comfort for both children and the family.”

More than a third of all children in foster care statewide (38 percent), or 6,000 children, were placed with relatives, PPC said, citing 2019 data compiled by the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System. Of that tally, 70 percent were children aged 11 and younger.

(Pa. Partnerships for Children, photo)

The report also details racial and ethnic disparities within the system, finding that when a child exits the child welfare system, into either adoption or guardianship, Black and Hispanic children were less likely to exit to permanency than were kin.

Similarly, younger children were more likely to be adopted, while older children experienced higher rates of guardianship, the report found.

“In 2019, only 13 percent of children adopted from foster care were adopted by relatives, and another 13% exited to guardianship with formal kin (the difference being in guardianship the biological parent can still regain custody of the child whereas in adoption that ability is terminated),” the report found.

In addition to detailing those challenges, the report also makes a number of policy recommendations. They include:

(Image via Pa. Partnerships for Children)

“When suggesting the creation of new policies or modifying existing ones, it is important to listen to those who have lived experiences,” King said. “The voices of those who are in or have been through the system must shape practice recommendations and ensure policies are effective and equitable.”

In addition, “enlisting the support of kin can proactively prevent a child’s formal involvement in the child welfare system, or removal from the home in the first place. If it is necessary for the child to be removed, placement with kin can reduce the trauma of removal by providing continuity of care and connections to their family and community,” King said.

“Removing children from the home of their parents or caregivers should always be the decision of last resort, but if it is necessary to ensure safety, placement considerations should first be with kin – blood relatives and those by marriage or adoption, a godparent or member of the child’s tribe – who have a significant relationship with the child or the child’s family,” she concluded.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
Pennsylvania has a shortage of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Elizabeth Hardison has what you need to know if you’re in line for it.

Pennsylvania has spent $1 million more on election lawsuits than previously known, the state’s highest ranking election official told a state House panel on Wednesday. Stephen Caruso has the details.

Saddled with a $450 million budget gap, Philadelphia faces ‘really painful decisions’ on its fiscal future, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

On our Commentary Page this morning, Philadelphia Gay News Publisher Mark Segal says it’s on all of us to fight LGBTQ economic discrimination. And an Arizona State University scholar explains why ‘Indian Country’ is excited about the first native interior secretary and the promise she brings.

En la Estrella-Capital: El representante de Filadelfia Brian Sims dice que buscará la aprobación Demócrata para convertirse en el vicegobernador en el 2022. Y el Senador Estatal de Pa. John Blake tomará el trabajo de desarrollo de econ con Cartwrightprovocando elecciones especiales del NEPA.

(c) dglimages –

Philadelphia’s school reopening has been delayed again, the Inquirer reports.
Pittsburgh City Council is supporting a change to a city anti-discrimination law that would tighten it to further protect people from hairstyle discrimination, the Post-Gazette reports.
Pennsylvania’s new COVID-19 vaccine policy favors big players over the small and isolated, PennLive reports.
St. Luke’s Hospital in Allentown and the Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley will give out free COVID vaccines, the Morning Call reports.
Unsealed court papers show more of what a Lancaster County man allegedly did during the Capitol riot, LancasterOnline reports.
On its 10th anniversary, the Citizens-Voice looks back at the trial of former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. 

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:


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Eight people were shot Wednesday afternoon near SEPTA’s Olney Transportation CenterWHYY-FM reports.
A proposed constitutional amendment changing Pennsylvania’s judicial elections likely won’t be on the May primary ballot, Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, tells WPSU-FM.
The York Daily Record
 looks at a proposed state law that would keep puppy mill dogs and cats out of Pennsylvania pet stores.
Former Republican LG candidate Jeff Bartos, of Montgomery County, has filed the paperwork for a potential bid for U.S. Senate in 2022, PoliticsPA reports.
The Biden administration will release its immigration overhaul proposal todayPolitico runs down what to expect.

What Goes On.
2 p.m.: First Lady Frances Wolf
 holds a Facebook Live to discuss how COVID-19 has amplified challenges in mental health and equity.
10 a.m., House Chamber: The Department of Community & Economic Development gets the ear of the House Appropriations Committee for the entire day today.

Read Any Good Books Lately?
We’re pleased to announce the launch of the Capital-Star GoodReads Book Club. Come on over and join us on our GoodReads page, we’ll be sharing what we’re reading, and you can weigh in on your favorite books as well. Associate Editor Cassie Miller gets things rolling with her latest read, “White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, by Robert P. Jones.

Heavy Rotation.
We’re in the middle of another blast of winter, so here’s a counter dose of tropical sunshine from Brazilian singer/songwriter Armandinho. It’s ‘Regueira Praiana.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Carolina dropped a 4-3 decision to Florida in overtime on Wednesday night. The Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau had three points, including the game winner at 2:29 in overtime.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.