Families First? Overcoming Barriers To Kinship Care In Pennsylvania

14 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2022 Last revised: 17 Aug 2022

See all articles by Sarah Katz

Sarah Katz

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Karissa Phelps


Date Written: July 19, 2022


Nationally, and within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the number of children being raised by grandparents or other relatives has increased over the last two decades—these kinship arrangements include informal family arrangements, formal custody arrangements, or kinship foster care placements. For several decades, federal law has required that child protection authorities consider kin as a placement option first when children are removed from their parents and placed in foster care. And with good reason: social science research shows that out-comes are better for children who are placed with kin than those placed in foster care with strangers. Such placements reduce the trauma children experience as a result of child protection system involvement and increase child well-being.

Yet nationally only 25% of children in the foster care system are placed with family or other kin; in Pennsylvania the number is about 38% statewide. Although child protection authorities are required to consider kin as placement options, there are also numerous reasons why kin are deemed ineligible or otherwise ruled out. This article will proceed in four parts. First, the article will look at the increasing role of grandparents and other kin in raising children. Second, the article will detail the various paths to kinship care for families. Third, the article will discuss the benefits and critiques of kinship foster care for children who are part of the child protection system. Fourth, the article will evaluate some of the barriers to kinship foster care. And finally, the article will suggest advocacy strategies that attorneys can use to increase the use of kinship foster care.

Keywords: family law, custody, dependency, grandparent rights, kinship, foster care

JEL Classification: K36, I30

Suggested Citation

Katz, Sarah and Phelps, Karissa, Families First? Overcoming Barriers To Kinship Care In Pennsylvania (July 19, 2022). July PA Bar Quart. 141 (2022)., Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2022-14, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4167154

Sarah Katz (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
215-204-1800 (Phone)

Karissa Phelps

Independent ( email )

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