Child, Youth, and Family Services Plan
Pennsylvania's 5 Year Child and Family Services Plan
The Department of Human Services' (DHS) Office of Children, Youth, and Families (OCYF) is the state agency responsible for leading, planning, directing, and coordinating statewide children's programs for child welfare. These programs include social services provided by county children and youth agencies and the agency's Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services through youth development centers and youth forestry camps. OCYF is responsible for the development of the state Child and Family Services Plan which outlines how Pennsylvania is meeting federal requirements that must be satisfied in order for states to receive funding under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood, and the Education and Training Vouchers Program.
Funding for child welfare services through Title IV-B Part 1 is distributed to county child and youth agencies in each of the commonwealth's 67 counties. Those county agencies then fund the services that are within the state-specified guidelines. Eligible services include in-home services (excluding child protective services and general protective services) and 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 federal 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 Titles IV-E and 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 OCYF, engaged in Pennsylvania's third federal review beginning in 2017. Pennsylvania previously participated in the Child and Family Services Review in 2002 and 2008. Pennsylvania is using the review process to further advance initiatives designed to improve safety, permanency and well-being outcomes for children and families.
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. The assessment provides a systematic picture of the state system, including statistical, descriptive and legal information
- An onsite review in which trained volunteers review a random sample of cases across multiple counties. This process involves a team of reviewers applying information learned through a review of the case record and interviews with parents, children, foster parents, caseworkers, and supervisors to complete the federal Onsite Review Instrument, which assesses case level performance on the achievement of safety, permanency and well-being outcomes.
- Federal partners from the Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau, conduct stakeholder interviews with individuals or groups of key people who have a general knowledge of how the child welfare system operates in their area. Additionally, the Children's Bureau representatives also interview individuals or groups who have statewide responsibilities or experience in child welfare.
Following the onsite review, the Administration for Children and Families issues a final report based on the findings from the Statewide Assessment, onsite review, and stakeholder interviews. States determined not to have achieved federal performance standards in areas assessed through the review are required to develop and implement a Program Improvement Plan to address the areas needing improvement.
Pennsylvania submitted the third round of the Child and Family Services Review Statewide Assessment in February 2017. The on-site review component occurred April 2017 through July 2017 in Butler, Centre, Lehigh, Lycoming, Northampton, Mercer, and Philadelphia counties. A total of 65 cases were reviewed across the seven counties.
The Final Report was received from the Administration for Children and Families in November 2017. As a result of the findings, OCYF is required to submit a Program Improvement Plan within 90 calendar days from the receipt of the final report. The Program Improvement Plan implementation period is two years, during which Pennsylvania is required to submit updates on plan progress and data reports to the Administration for Children and Families.