The Pennsylvania State Resource Family Association (PSRFA) collaborates with public and private agencies and local foster parent associations across the commonwealth. In addition to working with local foster parent associations, PSRFA works with foster, adoptive and kinship families and the professionals who serve them. PSRFA is overseen by a board of directors that is comprised of volunteers from across Pennsylvania, the majority of whom must be foster or resource family members.
Founded in 1974, the organization was originally known as the Pennsylvania State Foster Parent Association. It was initially designed to recruit new foster families and provide support to existing foster parents through networking and training. Over the last 40 years, PSRFA has grown considerably and now boasts more than 400 family members and more than 100 agency members. Since its inception, the organization has broadened the population it serves to include the larger definition of resource families, which is legally defined in Pennsylvania as “a family which provides temporary foster care or kinship care for children who need out of home placement and which may eventually provide permanency for those children, including as an adoptive family.”
On any given day approximately 15,000 children are in Pennsylvania’s child welfare system. To provide them with the care they need, Pennsylvania relies upon over 12,500 non-relative foster families and 1,500 kinship foster families. Since 1992, more than 21,000 children were adopted from the Pennsylvania foster care system, and those adoptive families are also eligible for PSRFA membership and services. PSRFA provides services to these children and families even if the families are not members of the statewide association. Additionally, PSRFA provides scholarships for foster children and children adopted from foster care so they can attend college or another post-secondary educational institution. Each scholarship PSRFA provides is matched in kind from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency if the child qualifies.
PSRFA advocates for resource families and the children they serve in a variety of ways. The organization believes that the best way to advocate for resource families is to empower them with the knowledge they need to advocate for their children within their own agencies and communities. PSRFA’s website, www.psrfa.org, includes an advocacy section that contains information about resource family rights, guardian ad litem responsibilities, the right of foster families to testify in court and adoption subsidies.
To help foster parents and those interested in learning more about fostering with much needed information, PSRFA created a guide about foster care and how the child welfare system works in Pennsylvania. The PSRFA Resource Parent Manual contains information about existing Pennsylvania foster care laws and regulations. The manual also describes foster care and covers a variety of issues of concern to foster families such as:
- What is Foster Care?
- The Children
- Title 4E Placement
- Special Needs Classification
- Consideration for the Child’s Needs
- Educational/Academic Issues
- When a Child Leaves
- Consent for Driving
- Health Care Regulations for Foster Children
- Federal and State Laws or Regulations That Help Your Child
- What Is Child Abuse?
- The Resource Family Role, Responsibilities and Rights
- Responsibilities of Resource Parents
- Federal Laws
- State Laws
- Adoption or Permanency Assistance
- Concurrent Planning
- When a Resource Parent Is Accused of Abuse
- Stipends-Title IV-E Foster Care Maintenance Payments
- Agency Responsibilities
- Family Service Plan Definition
- Child Permanency Plan
- Child Individualized Service Plan (ISP)
- Family Finding and Current Practices
- Concurrent Planning and Permanency
- The Role of the Courts
The new PSRFA Resource Parent Manual will soon be available for download on the website at www.psrfa.org.
PSRFA’s toll free number is 1-800-951-5151 for resource families and others interested in learning more about foster care. The phones are staffed from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily and staff are also trained to respond to other issues and concerns from current foster families about where to seek help in working with their agency or how to handle allegations of child abuse.
PSRFA is committed to improving the lives of all Pennsylvania resource families and the children they serve. PSRFA recognizes the need to improve the public’s perception of foster children and the families who serve them. Many people do not understand exactly what foster care is or how children end up in foster care and do not realize that the children in care are there through no fault of their own.