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Grandparents and other kin taking custody more often

There are children throughout Pennsylvania who are unable to live with their parents for one reason or another. In some situations, a parent's drug use or homelessness creates a situation where it is unsafe for children to live with their parents. Additionally, the parents' abuse or neglect or a parents' incarceration can also make the parenting relationship impossible. In these situations, the state of Pennsylvania often takes the children into custody.

When the children are in state custody, the state has a couple of options for the children. The children can be placed in the foster care system. In the foster care system, they can stay with foster parents or in a group home. However, the state can also choose to find some of the child's family members to take care of the child. Grandparents, for example, would be a next of kin that may be able to take custody over the child.

There has been a trend in recent years to rely more on kinship care instead of the traditional foster care system. Since 2012, there has been a 24 percent increase in kinship care in the state of Pennsylvania. In 2014, kinship care represented 18 percent of all children who were in state care.

The state has found that placing a child with family has decreased negative outcomes in these situations and is often in the best interests of the child. In fact, children who were placed with family often try to run away less and are less likely to have to switch schools.

It can be difficult for family members to take custody over children in state custody. Grandparents, and other relatives, still need to pass background checks and fill out paperwork to satisfy the state.

There are many situations where grandparents in Pennsylvania may want custody over their grandchildren. In many cases, it might be possible for this to happen. Grandparents need to understand their grandparents' rights and the steps necessary to make this custody a reality.

Source: CT Post, "More foster kids finding homes with kin in Pennsylvania," Jan. 9, 2016

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