Foster Care and Kinship Care

kinshipcareEvery child deserves a loving, nurturing permanent home, where they feel cared for, safe and supported.

What is Foster Care?

The foster care system provides a temporary arrangement in which adults provide for the care of a child or children whose birthparent is unable to care for them. Foster care is not where juvenile delinquents go. It is where children go when their parents cannot, for a variety of reasons, care for them.

Foster care can be informal or arranged through the courts or a social service agency. The goal for a child in the foster care system is usually reunification with the birth family, but may be changed to adoption when this is seen as in the child's best interest. While foster care is temporary, adoption is permanent.

What is Kinship Care?

Kinship care refers to the care of children by relatives or, in some jurisdictions, close family friends (often referred to as fictive kin). Relatives are the preferred resource for children who must be removed from their birth parents because it maintains the children's connections with their families.

Children of all age groups come into foster care for many different reasons, some alone and others with siblings. Jefferson County Children and Youth Services helps the agency provide temporary substitute care for children when it becomes necessary to ensure their safety, sense of security and to provide for their basic needs and wellbeing. They provide a safe, stable home until the children are able to return home. When that is not possible, resource families may become the child's alternate permanent family through adoption or continue to take care of the child until an alternate permanent family can be identified.

For more information on, or to enquire about, becoming a Jefferson County foster home, please contact our office at 814-849-3696.

Why Are You Important?

The agency tries to reduce the stress of foster care placement by looking for resources that will help maintain children in their own community because:

  • Resource families in Jefferson County help children maintain ties to their community and things familiar.
  • Children are able to stay in their school district, which prevents or reduces a disruption to their learning. When children cannot be placed together, Resource families in Jefferson County help the agency maintain children near their siblings, which allows for easy visiting among siblings, friends and family.
  • Resource families in Jefferson County help provide better opportunities for creative visitation with parents, which keeps parents engaged in the reunification process.

Why Are You Needed?
Resource families are needed to provide a protective nurturing environment for infants, school age children and teens. For infants, children or teens with special needs and for teen mothers and their children.

There are minimum requirements that must be met by all applicants:

  • Resource parents can be married or single
  • Be at least 21 years old
  • With or without children of their own
  • Must be financially stable and able to meet their own needs
  • Have a home or apartment that meets the Department of Public Welfare's standards
  • Must be willing to participate in a detailed personal interview and safety assessment of their living environment
  • Must complete and pass required child abuse, state police and FBI clearances
  • Must complete a medical assessment
  • Must complete pre-service trainings

Resource parents are part of the agency team and provide a short-term commitment that can make a long-term impact.

Family First Act
The Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018. This act reforms the federal child welfare financing streams, Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, to provide services to families who are at risk of entering the child welfare system. The bill aims to prevent children from entering foster care by allowing federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skill training. It also seeks to improve the well-being of children already in foster by incentivizing states to reduce placement of children in congregate care.

For more information on foster care and kinship care, visit