This program aims to expand supportive services available for PA relative caregivers and the children they are raising, particularly in terms of helping them find needed information and resources, find and enroll in support groups that serve kinship care families, and engage in family-based recreational and relationship-enhancing activities. County-based Extension educators and the human service professionals with whom they collaborate provide a range of services in various counties throughout the state.

According to the Grandfacts: State Fact Sheets for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children (updated 2019), in Pennsylvania, 238,600 children (8.8 percent of the children in the state) are living in homes where householders are grandparents or other relatives. Over 88,000 grandparents are householders responsible for meeting the needs of children in their care.

There are four components to the Penn State Extension Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP):

  1. The PA Kinship Navigator website: This is an online database of programs, services, and resources available for kinship care families in Pennsylvania. We collaborate with agencies and organizations around the state to update and add new resource listings to the database. [If you run a program that serves grandfamilies in Pennsylvania, please enter your program into this database through our "Submit a Program" website.] 
  2. Online resources for human service professionals: The "Grandparents Raising Grandchildren - Doubly Stressed, Triply Blessed" curriculum and other educational materials help build awareness of the challenges faced by relative caregiver families and the resources available to them.
  3. Educational workshops for kinship care families: These workshops strengthen relative caregivers' childrearing and family communication skills. They are usually conducted as part of kinship family support group meetings. In addition, Family Kinship Forum sessions - are conducted the third Wednesday of each month at Noon. [Recordings of past Forum sessions and registration for future ones can be found on the Extension website.]
  4. Kinship Family Retreats: Kinship family members spend 2-days of quality time together in a stress-free camp-like setting. They take part in various educational and recreational activities designed to help families address communication and relationship issues.

The Penn State RAPP program team consists of: Matt Kaplan (Professor & Extension specialist: Intergenerational programs and aging), Cynthia Pollich (Extension Associate: Food, Families & Health), Darlene Sansone (Educator: Food, Families & Health/Better Kid Care program), Rozalia Horvath (Extension Educator: Food, Families & Health), and Jacqueline Amor-Zitzelber (Extension Educator: Food, Families & Health). [For more information, contact Matt Kaplan at Penn State University.]

Kinship Families: Resources to Know

Links to kinship and family care resources from Penn State Extension.

Kinship Care Support Groups

This fact sheet highlights some of the benefits of belonging to a kinship care support group and describes the basic steps involved in organizing support groups.

Kinship Care in Pennsylvania: Support for Families with Grandparents and Other Kin Raising Children

This publication addresses kinship care challenges and highlights promising programs and resources available to assist grandparents and other relative caregivers and the children they are raising.

What is Kinship Care?

Most people picture families as parents and children, but in some cases, parents may not even be present in the home. Kinship families and grandfamilies are relatives taking charge of grandchildren or other kindred.

Contact Us

Matthew Kaplan, Ph.D.
  • Professor, Intergenerational Programs and Aging

Contact Us

Matthew Kaplan, Ph.D.
  • Professor, Intergenerational Programs and Aging