The Juvenile Act (42 Pa. C.S. §§6301-6365) allows for the placement of a child with any individual, including a relative, who has met the regulatory requirements of a foster home and has a relationship with the child(ren). In Pennsylvania, this is known as Kinship Care. In the case of formal kinship care, the child remains in the legal custody of the Agency but can be placed with a Kinship resource. As an approved resource parent the Kinship resource is able to receive a Kinship maintenance payment. The Agency supports and encourages the use of Kinship placements when it is no longer safe for a child to remain with his/her parents. Kinship care is often the least intrusive option for out-of-home care and enables the child(ren) to maintain ties with the birth family while ensuring their safety.
The Kinship/ Emergency Caregiver (ECG)/ Interstate Compact Placement of Children (ICPC) Unit has two main functions within the Agency. The first function is to complete the home studies for Emergency Caregiver, Kinship, or Interstate placements of children. The caseworker must evaluate the perspective homes and resource parents to determine whether they meet all the regulatory requirements of a foster home. Some of the components of the home study that a resource parent would need to complete are: undergoing a home inspection, filing out the application and completing an autobiography, obtaining references, ChildLine clearances, Criminal background check, providing financial information, a medical examination, and being interviewed by a caseworker. The entire home study process can take up to sixty days. In certain situations an Emergency Caregiver home study can be completed and the child(ren) can be placed with the resource on an emergency basis for up to sixty days while the full home study is being completed. Kinship Caregivers and Emergency Caregivers must also complete at least six hours of training annually. Approved Kinship parents and Emergency Caregivers are entitled to receive a maintenance payment if they meet all the requirements.
The second function of the Kinship/ECG/ICPC Unit is to supervise the placement of children in approved Kinship, Emergency Caregiver and Interstate homes. A caseworker is assigned to every child to ensure that the child’s needs are being met while in their Kinship home. The caseworker is responsible for seeing the child in the resource home at least one time per month.
The Kinship/ECG/ICPC Unit is also responsible for conducting home study requests from other states when the potential resource resides in Lehigh County. If the home is approved and the child sent to live with the resource here in Lehigh County, a caseworker from this unit will be assigned to monitor the placement for the sending State. This process is regulated by the guidelines in the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.