A Second Chance, Inc. (ASCI), is a nonprofit corporation established in 1994. Its mission is to provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment to children in the care of relatives or close family friends—formally called kinship care. ASCI is the largest provider of kinship support services to all of Allegheny County, Pa., where it is also headquartered. ASCI also has contracts in Westmoreland, Fayette, Mercer and Washington counties and a large office in Philadelphia County—where it provides a full range of services to families, youth and children in cooperation with the Department of Human Services (DHS), which considers ASCI the provider of choice for kinship-related services—serving three additional contiguous counties.
ASCI is the largest foster care provider to Allegheny County Department of Human Services’ Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF). In conjunction with the courts, CYF determines the appropriate placements for neglected, abused or abandoned children before referring these families to ASCI to stabilize the placements, license the homes according to Department of Public Welfare (DPW) requirements and ASCI’s Gold Standard 60-day certification family approval process, provide crucial support services and ensure the safety, permanency and well-being of the children in care.
Furthermore, as a culturally based tradition within the African-American community, kinship care in the child welfare system is the most respectful way to reduce and eventually eliminate disparities in placements linked to race and ethnicity, across the continuum of service. The use of kinship care spans every culture, and as such, is applicable to every child welfare system. ASCI has formalized this tradition through its programs. Thus, its model is culturally competent and culturally responsive.
ASCI’s unique theory-to-practice model has been recognized nationally by such distinguished organizations as the Urban Institute, Children’s Defense Fund, Casey Family Programs and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The organization’s January 2019 census suggests, on average, it serves 1,800 children and other members of the triad daily. However, since its founding, it has serviced over 31,000 children, 10,00 kinship caregivers and 30,000 birth parents.