The Bureau of Policy, Programs, and Operations develops and publishes program procedures and directives governing child welfare activities in the commonwealth related to:
- The administration of public and private children and youth agencies;
- Foster family care;
- Child residential and day treatment programs; and
- Child Protective Services.
The Bureau of Policy, Programs, and Operations handles all of the following:
- Plans, develops, and implements new and revised regulations; provides program clarifications; conducts training and orientation on new/revised procedures; provides analysis of and recommendations for proposed legislation; develops program reports and publications; and coordinates and provides technical assistance and training materials for OCYF regional office staff and service providers.
- Is responsible for programs required by Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law and Departmental regulations governing services to dependent and neglected children.
- The bureau oversees and manages special grants including the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN), Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, Family Centers and the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program.
- Coordinates with OCYF’s Bureau of Budget and Program Support in applying for and managing grants for the development of child welfare services.
- Is responsible for coordinating the data collection and analysis of child welfare data for OCYF, as well as for the county and private children and youth social services agencies.
Serves as the lead for special projects such as the Federal Child and Family Services Review and the Federal Systems of Care Grant. The Bureau also works closely with the University of Pittsburgh’s Child Welfare Training Program in Mechanicsburg.
The bureau is responsible for managing and operating the ChildLine and Abuse Registry and the three Interstate Compacts for the commonwealth.
The Bureau is also responsible for managing and operating the following units:
Interstate Compact Unit
The Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA) protects the interests of children covered by an adoption assistance agreement when the children move to or are placed for adoption across state lines. This compact provides the legal mechanism and administrative framework to support Pennsylvania in ensuring that children with Adoption Assistance Agreements are provided medical assistance in a timely manner. This compact also requires that residence states rely on the children’s existing eligibility determination and that residence states must provide medical services without delay.
The Interstate Compact for Juveniles (ICJ) facilitates the transfer of probation and parole supervision for delinquent juveniles between states. This compact facilitates the return of juveniles who have absconded, escaped, fled to avoid prosecution, or run away from their home state. This compact also allows a supervising state to provide supervision of conditions imposed upon eligible juveniles by the sending state’s court.
The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) coordinates the legal placement of delinquent and/or dependent children across state lines and the subsequent supervision of the children in the approved placement setting for the purpose of parental care, foster care, adoption, or residential placement. This compact enables eligible children, who are placed in Interstate-approved foster and residential placements, to receive IV-E Medicaid in the receiving state, when appropriate and applicable. This office also assures that all Pennsylvania requirements are met prior to the placement of children into Pennsylvania for the purpose of international adoption.
ChildLine is part of a mandated statewide child protective services program designed to accept child abuse referrals and general child well-being concerns, and transmit the information quickly to the appropriate investigating agency. ChildLine is responsible for receiving verbal and electronic referrals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, child abuse investigation outcomes and general protective services assessment outcomes are submitted to, and reviewed and finalized by, ChildLine specialists. The hotline maintains the child abuse registry to ensure record checks can be performed, child abuse certifications can be processed, data can be analyzed, and reporting documents can be developed, such as the annual Child Protective Services Report.
Verification (Background Checks) Unit
Toll Free: 1-877-371-5422
The CPSL requires certain individuals, those who work or volunteer with children, to obtain a child abuse history clearance from the department to ensure they are not known perpetrators of child abuse. An agency or organization is prohibited from hiring employees or selecting volunteers for a position involving children if the individual was named as a perpetrator in a founded report of child abuse within five years preceding the verification of their clearance and/or convicted of certain offenses. ChildLine processes the following types of clearances:
- Child Abuse History Clearance: Individuals who work or volunteer with children must obtain a child abuse history clearance from the Department to ensure they are not known perpetrators of child abuse,
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Background Check: FBI criminal background checks are processed for individuals working with children or residing in resource family homes. They are also processed for certain adults who volunteer with children.
- CareCheck: CareCheck is a required background clearance that is processed for relative/neighbor child care providers who care for children whose parents participate in the subsidized child care program.
- Out of State Clearance: Out of State clearances are processed for resource parents, including adoptive and foster parents, when a resource parent has resided outside of Pennsylvania within the past five years. Out of state clearances are also processed for adults residing in, or moving into, an already approved home and residing there for a period of 30 days or more in a calendar year, who have resided outside of Pennsylvania within the past five years.
Persons whose names appear on founded or indicated reports of child abuse can exercise their right to appeal, expunge, or amend a report of child abuse as permitted by the Child Protective Services Law. This unit reviews each request for eligibility and processes and tracks each appeal until a final decision is made.
Quality Assurance and Administrative Support Unit
The Quality Assurance and Administrative Support Unit (QAASU) reviews investigation outcomes for accuracy, completeness, and timeliness, as well as mailing notification letters to all subjects of the report and to the perpetrator(s) which also serve as their notification of appeal rights. This unit is also responsible for the review of outcomes that are due for expunction as per the CPSL.
Systems Technology and Data Management Section
The Systems Technology and Data Management Section is responsible for supporting various data systems, including the development and implementation of the Child Welfare Information Solution (CWIS) along with the interface with county case management systems.
The section also develops queries, performs data management and reporting, and reviews and recommends approval of information technology (IT) grants. The section coordinates the data collection and analysis of child welfare data for OCYF and federal reporting, as well as for the county and private children and youth social services agencies.
For additional information on the Child Protective Services Law, clearances, mandated reporting requirements, training, and contact information, please visit www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov
Christina Phillips, Director
Bureau of Policy, Programs and Operations