Pittsburgh native, Sharon L. McDaniel has “beaten the odds” and from an early age of being forced into a foster care system, is now a nationally known expert, successful business entrepreneur and pioneer and advocate for Kinship Care. She is the founder, President and CEO of A Second Chance, Inc. – a leading provider of Kinship Care in both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and sits on the Board of Trustees of Casey Family Programs – the nation’s leading foundation focused on children in foster care. She is now the author of the upcoming book, On My Way Home – A Memoir of Kinship, Grace, and Hope. Her memoir underscores the purpose of Kinship Care – empowering families to save the lives of their children.
This intimate account of her life begins when she was only 6 years old and removed from the care of her young, widowed father, separated from her brother and sister and forced into the child welfare system in Pittsburgh. Until aging out of the system 11 years later at age 17, her journey was one of finding home; a quest that unknowingly became her calling in life.
Despite the pain of her situation, she credits kin in helping her become strong enough, resilient enough and confident enough to survive the harsh realities of life in the foster care system in the 60’s and 70’s.
Hers is a revealing story of extending kinship status beyond those related by blood or marriage to those fictive kin ties that are essential to family preservation.
When asked about the book, Marc Cherna, Director of Allegheny County Department of Human Services stated, “ What I like is that as the county’s sole kinship care provider, Sharon McDaniel was doing something that I had never seen before. Her agency, A Second Chance, Inc. boldly wanted to address kinship care issues by developing a grassroots expertise to help families. Her work went against the grain that the government had to be the problem-solver.”
Dr. McDaniel’s book depicts a life story rich in the cultural traditions of how many African American families have created their own kin-networks of support and how these customs and practices can be used to move families of all cultures forward today.
Dr. McDaniel herself stated, “Kinship Care is a very personal story for me. Without Kinship Care, my life would have been drastically different. I chose this time to tell my story because I believe the stage has been set to motivate our country into a new wave and new consciousness of Kinship Care. In my heart, I personally know that Kinship Care can change the face of child welfare for families.”