University of Pittsburgh
August 14, 2008

Race and Kinship Care the Topic of Aug. 19 Pitt Institute For Social Workers and Educators


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-According to the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, nearly 200,000 children in the state live in households headed by a grandparent or some other relative.

Kinship care-when a child's relative become the primary caregiver-can be an effective alternative to foster care, but it comes with its own set of challenges.

Educators, community leaders, and social workers will explore these issues at a free all-day session Aug. 19 called Race and Kinship Care. It is the last of the 2008 Summer Institutes hosted by the University of Pittsburgh Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP), and will be held in the School of Social Work Conference Center, 20th floor, Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland.

The institute will look at how people from different backgrounds view or experience kinship care; it will not focus on cross-racial placement of children. The day will include presentations, discussions, and break-out sessions.

The featured speakers and their topics follow.

9:10 a.m.

"Family Preservation Through Kinship Care"

Ruth McCoy, Ruby Lee Piester Centennial Professor Emerita, University of Texas at Austin. McCoy's interests include open adoptions, family preservation, and racial identity issues. In 2007, McCoy evaluated the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's Adoptive and Foster Couples Retreat and Support Network Program, which aims to strengthen and preserve families who adopt or have fostered children.

10:15 a.m.

"Kinship Care: African American Adolescents' Perceptions"

Ann Schwartz, associate professor of sociology, Concordia University. Her professional interests include child welfare policy, kinship and foster care, and ethnic identity. In addition to teaching and conducting research, Schwartz also coordinates the Service-Learning Program at Concordia and administers a new initiative that prepares students for service in the child welfare system through a partnership with Lutheran Social Services of the South.

11:20 a.m.

"Permanency Planning for Children of Color in Allegheny County"

Marcia Sturdivant, deputy director, Office of Children, Youth, and Families, Allegheny County Department of Human Services. Sturdivant is president of the Pittsburgh affiliate of the Black Child Development Institute. She lectures locally and across the country on child abuse and neglect, the effect of racism on child development, and culturally based interventions for at-risk families.

After lunch, a panel discussion will take place focusing on implications for Pittsburgh. Participants will include Sharon Lowe, founder, president, and CEO of A Second Chance, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based private kinship and foster care agency.

The Race and Kinship Care Institute, funded by The Pittsburgh Foundation, provides for six hours of continuing education credits.