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Fostering hope where it's needed most

Loving families just like yours can make a lifechanging difference for children in need. The Children’s Institute’s Foster Care Placement Services (formerly part of Project STAR) matches children who are not able to remain at home for a variety of reasons with caring families who can provide a safe and supportive environment. We currently certify foster families in Allegheny, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland counties and have a strong need for foster parents willing to care for older youth, sibling groups, and children who are differently abled. 

Providing a place of security, care, and love for a child

Foster parents are always needed to provide loving and safe homes for children when biological families are in crisis. Whether this means providing short-term assistance to a child in need or long-term support on the path to potential adoption, we work to match children with foster parents who best meet the child's needs. We provide the highest level of support to families every step of the way through emergency placement and our matching process.

Connecting amazing kids and amazing families

Ideal foster parents come from all experiences and backgrounds. And just as families are different, so are the needs of children placed into foster homes. Along with children who are developing on target, we strive to match children with families who are open to providing safe and loving homes for young people with physical, emotional, and intellectual disabilities.

A partner throughout your journey

Once a child is placed with you, we never stop caring for the well-being of your family. We provide continuing support services to ensure a safe, nurturing environment for successful parenting. Throughout the placement, specialists will visit your home and coordinate services such as counseling and therapy as needed. 
  • An assigned Foster Care Specialist sees the child in the foster home at least two times per month
  • 24-hour emergency assistance is available in times of need through our on-call service
  • Ongoing training and support specialized to meet the child and family’s needs
  • Services can continue for children through age 21, if needed

Opening your home and heart

Thousands of children enter foster care through no fault of their own. There is a great need for foster parents in general, but especially for those who are willing to take children ages 5-21, older youth, sibling groups, and children who are differently abled. The Children’s Institute is a leader in providing support for circumstances that require special assistance, including:

Emergency Shelter Placement

For families ready to provide the necessary care and nurturing home environment for a child at a moment's notice.

Respite Care

For families who can provide a temporary home for a child, giving that child's family a chance for rest and renewal during a time of need.

Medical Foster Care

For families who are able to provide specialty care for children with medical complexities ranging from mild to severe.


For families who can commit to a child as a forever family and offer a place of permanence, security, and love. Permanency is the ultimate goal for children in foster care. We support and assist foster families through the adoption process when the court has determined that reunification with biological families is no longer possible.

How to become a foster family

The Children's Institute currently certifies families in Allegheny, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. We want our foster families to succeed so we educate, train, support, and advocate for them throughout their journey. Get started on your journey and learn more by filling out our inquiry form. A team member will then be in touch.

Complete our inquiry form.

If you are interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent, start by completing our inquiry form. A member of our team will contact you to provide guidance and answer questions.

Attend an information meeting.

We currently hold information meetings via teleconference. These meetings are a great opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the parent certification process, waiting children, and our program. If you're interested setting up a meeting to learn more, fill out our inquiry form.

Begin the parent certification process.

This step includes 24 hours of education and coursework designed to give you a better understanding of the journey ahead. We offer training and certification classes quarterly in both Allegheny and Washington Counties.*
*All meetings at the current time are being held virtually.

Frequently Asked Questions

We are here to help answer all of your questions about foster care as you consider becoming a foster parent or foster family. We've put together a few resources and FAQs to help you as you explore if foster care is right for you.

Download Our Foster Care Placement Services Info Sheet
If you can provide love and stability, you are an ideal candidate. Whether single, married, divorced, or living with a partner; same-sex or traditional; working or retired; renters or homeowners; experienced or new to parenting, we recognize that loving families come in all shapes and sizes. We welcome and accept traditional and non-traditional families to become foster parents no matter a family's race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or other. In order to become certified through our parent certification process, families must meet the following requirements:
  • Must be at least 21 years of age
  • Must demonstrate financial stability
  • Must pass home and safety inspection
  • Must demonstrate physical, emotional, and mental stability and health to care for a child
  • Must pass required background checks
Because of our commitment to children, The Children’s Institute does not charge agency fees to families. Reimbursements to The Children's Institute from state and county agencies, charitable grants, and personal contributions make this possible.
The certification process takes three to four months. Once certified, placement of a child depends upon the type of certification the family has chosen. For example, families who choose to provide emergency shelter foster care can have a child placed almost immediately after certification, while families who are specifically certified for adoption may be in the matching process for several months.
We have a required curriculum as part of our parent certification process that will assist you in learning and identifying tools that can help you on your foster care journey. Our highly skilled team is dedicated to every child and family we serve and are available as a resource and support to your family.

As a foster family, you will be assigned a permanency specialist to help you through the matching process and to provide support when a child is placed in your home. And for parents who finalize adoption, post-permanency services are available.
The goal for every child is always reunification with the biological family. This goal remains in place for at least 15 months before the court will consider changing it. The foster child may return to the biological family at any point in that 15 months and may not become available for adoption. 

We're Here to Help

Want to learn more about what makes The Children’s Institute the best choice for Foster Care Placement Services? Contact us today. Our friendly team is happy to answer all your questions and get you connected to the right resources.

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Amazing Stories

Through the Older Child Matching Initiative, 15-year-old Chance found his forever home when he was adopted by Tony Ranalli and Casey Chandler.

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Through Family Support Services, John and Mary Tadler became a family of five, creating a loving, permanent home for their three girls.

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April and Jay Pugh tell the amazing story of how they had four daughters four ways. Learn more about how foster care and adoption helped to grow their family.

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Take Action

Not sure what the next step is? You can always call our Information Center at 412.420.2400 to speak to a team member who can direct you to the support and answers you need.

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