Kinship care is the full-time care, nurturing and protection of children by relatives or any adult who has a "kinship" bond with the children. These caregivers may include grandparents, aunts or uncles, siblings of the children requiring care, cousins or non-blood "relatives," such as a teacher, coach or family friend. Pennsylvania developed a Kinship Navigator Program called KinConnector. Specially trained navigators known as KinConnectors support kin families caring for their relatives by providing information, resources, and program referral assistance. The KinConnectors respond to incoming telephone calls, emails and website inquiries as well as make collaborative contacts with other organizations who serve kinship families.
A Kinship Navigator Advisory Committee comprised of professionals, grandparents, other kinship families, and individuals who were raised by a grandparent or relative, has been established. This committee helps guide program development by making recommendations on the array of needed services to better meet the needs of kinship families. KinConnector can be reached toll-free at 1-866-KIN-2111 (1-866-546-2111) or at
Family First amended the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood (Chafee) program to allow states the option to extend aftercare services to former foster youth up to their 23rd birthday (previously 21st birthday). Aftercare services help prevent or minimize setbacks that can occur after a youth discharge is discharged from care. After reviewing the recommendations made by the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Council, the Department of Human Services (DHS) opted into this provision effective July 1, 2020. Pennsylvania's aftercare services include the full range of Independent Living services and supports and are available to any youth who exited foster care on or after their 14th birthday and prior to their 23rd birthday. Eligible youth include:
- Youth who experience foster care at age 14 or older.
- Youth who exited care at age 18 or extended care up to age 21.
- Youth who exited care through adoption or legal guardian after attaining age 16.
- Youth who exited care through reunification at age 14 or older.
In addition, beginning July 1, 2020, DHS opted to extend eligibility for the Chafee Education and Training Voucher program, known as Education and Training Grant (ETG) in Pennsylvania, to youth up until their 26th birthday (previously 23rd birthday). ETG provides financial support for post-secondary education. Youth may participate in the program for up to five years..
ETG eligibility includes youth who are in foster care or discharged from foster care on or after attaining age 16 or exited foster care on or after age 16 to adoption or permanent legal guardianship.
Here is a complete list of ETG eligibility requirements.
For more Independent Living information, pleases see OFYC bulletin entitled
Youth Independent Living Services Guidelines.
The Family First Prevention Services Act made changes to the Social Security Act to expand the requirement for criminal record and registry checks to all adults working in child care institutions under
Act 47, signed on July 2, 2019. This act amended the Child Protective Services Law. Child care institutions include child residential facilities.