On Their Own Terms: Supporting Kinship Care Outside of TANF and Foster Care. A Second Chance, Inc.



Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Program Development

A Second Chance, Inc. (ASCI) is a private, non-profit kinship foster care agency in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania established in 1994. The agency provides services in Allegheny County to kinship care families, the children in their care, and birth parents referred by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth, and Families (CYF).

Mission and Goals

The agency's primary goal is to promote family wellness and provide culturally responsive services through their holistic approach. Additionally, ASCI will assist all communities in their efforts to preserve healthy families and support all children in their right to have a permanent, consistent, and stable family environment. The agency's mission is to increase the reunification of children with their birth families whenever possible and to promote adoption and long-term kinship foster care when necessary for a more permanent status for children.

Target Population and Eligibility Criteria

All families must be referred by CYF within four days of a child's placement with kin. At intake and assessment, ASCI determines whether the referral is appropriate. The program rarely serves special needs children when they would be more appropriately served through a therapeutic home, as they do not directly provide the type of intensive services needed in such cases. ASCI does not work with sexually abused children until criminal hearings are completed. From the start, program staff work with the entire "triad"--the birth parent, child, and kinship caregiver.

A Second Chance can work with no more than 1200 children at a time, as mandated by CYF. In December 2000, the program had 712 children enrolled in services.

Organizational Structure

A Second Chance, Inc. is a private non-profit kinship foster care agency. A nine-member board of directors and an advisory board provide agency oversight. The founder serves as the president and chief executive officer.

A Second Chance staff stay in close contact with CYF workers who handle all legal aspects of each case. CYF remains the legal entity responsible for all children referred to ASCI. ASCI staff notify CYF of any changes in family status and provide monthly and quarterly reports describing each child's progress.


ASCI employs a strength-based approach to service delivery and provides a wide variety of services and has several key efforts including:

  • "Point of Contact"--case management and assistance to the entire kinship triad (kin caregiver, child, birth parent) and assistance for caregivers to meet the foster parent requirements
  • "First Steps"--90-day intensive services to birth parents and their children to facilitate reunification
  • Permanency planning
  • Visitation supervision
  • Adoption services through the Statewide Adoption Network (SWAN)
  • Aftercare (post-permanency contact/referrals)
  • Respite care
  • Transportation assistance
  • Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT)
  • Wrap-around services in the home
  • Support groups (for kinship caregivers, children, and birthparents)
  • Youth support services
  • Summer camp
  • Information and referral
  • Furniture and financial assistance for other concrete needs
  • "New-2-You" (clothing bank)
  • "Moving with Dignity" (new and gently used luggage for kids)

While the intensive case management services are available only to families referred by CYF, informal kin can take advantage of the information and referral service, the clothing bank, support groups, and other supportive services.

Another key component of ASCI is their program for certifying relatives as foster parents. One of ASCI's main accomplishments has been to design training that accommodates the special needs of kin. ASCI has created many options including one-on-one training in the kinship caregiver's home.

Major Funding Sources

The majority of ASCI's funding comes from CYF (IV-E funding). The program receives a set payment per child based on a level system. Residual funds go back into the program and are used for the adoption and reunification components, as well as other activities. Additional funding has come through grants from several foundations, including the Pittsburgh Foundation, the City of Pittsburgh/Youth Works, and the Junior League of Greater Pittsburgh. ASCI is also the administrative agency for the Federal Adoption Opportunities Grant that CYF received.

Key Contact

Dr. Sharon McDaniel
Executive Director
A Second Chance, Inc.
204 North Highland Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15206