Pathways to Kinship Care

The Challenge

Research demonstrates that young people who are involved in the child welfare system have better outcomes when they are placed with relatives (i.e., kin) than when they are placed in foster care with non-kin. While the percentage of young people in kinship care has increased in Philadelphia in recent years, there is still a widespread lack of information among families and advocates about kinship care, and there are practical barriers to accomplishing kinship placements.

The Project

Through this Emerging Leader Fellowship, Karissa Phelps worked with Temple University Beasley School of Law, local community groups, and the legal advocacy community to expand access to kinship care for child welfare-involved families and youth in Philadelphia.

Specifically, this Fellowship enabled Karissa to:

  • Interview key stakeholders from community groups, relative affinity groups, youth-serving systems, and the courts and provide direct legal representation to a limited number of clients to gather information about existing resources and obstacles for kin who are seeking to become caregivers for youth.
  • Engage in policy implementation efforts related to advancing kinship care, following the passage of the federal Family First Prevention Services Act and recent changes to state law.
  • Create, convene, and lead an advisory group with representatives from legal services organizations, community partners, and youth-serving systems in Philadelphia.
  • Design resource tools and trainings for attorneys, parents, and potential caregivers about how to pursue kinship care placements, where appropriate, for children in dependency and domestic relations courts.

Karissa Phelps, JD, MSW

Emerging Leader Fellow


Temple Legal Aid

Current Position

Spear Wilderman, P.C.


Project Updates