State Agency Administering the Programs
The Department of Human Services (DHS) Office of Children, Youth and Families is the state agency, located in the state capitol of Harrisburg, PA that is responsible to lead, plan, direct, and coordinate statewide children’s programs. These programs include social services provided directly by County Children and Youth Agencies and the agency's Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services through the youth development centers and youth forestry camps. The Office of Children Youth and Families is responsible for the development of the State’s Child and Family Services Plan.
Title IV-B Part 1 funds for child welfare services are distributed to all 67 County Children and Youth Agencies based on the number of children served in each county. The county agencies fund child welfare services that are within the state-specified guidelines. The state guidelines direct the county agencies to use these funds for in-home services, (excluding child protective services and general protective services), community-based and institutional services (excluding secure facilities) that are not funded with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid or Title IV-E funds.
Pennsylvania's Child Family Services Review
The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 led to the development of specific outcomes to be used to measure state performance in achieving national goals of safety, permanency and well-being for children and families served by the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The Child and Family Services Review monitors conformity with the requirements of Title IV-B of the Social Security Act. The ultimate goal of the review is to improve outcomes for children and families by improving practice. DHS, through the Office of Children, Youth and Families, engaged in Pennsylvania’s second federal review beginning in 2008. Pennsylvania is using the required review process to further advance existing initiatives designed to improve these outcomes.
The review process consists of three phases:
• A Statewide Assessment conducted through a collaborative stakeholder process to provide an overview of the state’s performance in child welfare. It provides a systematic picture of the state system, including statistical, descriptive and legal information;
• An onsite review in three counties across the state where a federal/state team will review a sample of cases and conduct case-related interviews with parents, children, caregivers, caseworkers, supervisors and other professionals knowledgeable about the case. The team will also conduct local stakeholder interviews with individuals or groups of key people who have general knowledge of how child protection operates in their area. Additionally, the team also interviews individuals or groups who have statewide responsibilities or experience in child welfare; and
• Following the onsite review, the Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau issues a final report based on the findings from the statewide assessment and the onsite review. States determined not to have achieved substantial conformity in areas assessed are required to develop and implement a Program Improvement Plan to address the areas of nonconformity.
Pennsylvania submitted the round two Child and Family Services Review statewide assessment in May 2008. The second onsite review occurred on July 28 – August 1, 2008. The Final Report was received from Administration for Children and Families in February 2009. As a result of those findings, a Program Improvement Plan was submitted and approved by the administration effective June 30, 2010. The Program Improvement Plan implementation period is two years, during which Pennsylvania is required to submit quarterly updates to the plan matrix, as well as, semi-annual narrative and data reports to the Administration for Children and Families.