Philadelphia—The Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) received full licenses for both the Children and Youth Division and the Youth Study Center from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.
“For the past two years, the Department has worked tirelessly to implement reforms that ensure the safety and well being of children,” said DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose. “We are gratified that the State has recognized the Department’s progress and we are committed to continuing our efforts to improve services for vulnerable children. There remains much work to do at DHS but our full license is further evidence that we are on the right road.”
According to Ambrose, DHS’ Youth Study Center (YSC) received a full license for one year and its Children and Youth Division (CYD) received a full 8-month license.
The announcement follows the recent release of a report by the Philadelphia Community Oversight Board, which highlights the considerable progress the Department has made in its reform efforts. The COB, initially convened by former Mayor John Street and reestablished by Mayor Nutter in January, 2008, monitors the progress on the implementation of the recommended reforms of the Child Welfare Review Panel (CWRP).
The Board’s report notes that DHS has made great strides in monitoring outcomes for the children it serves. In particular, it credits the Department for the creation of a new Division of Performance Management and Accountability, which measures and monitors outcomes for children served by the Department. “The COB recognizes this as a foundational effort necessary to make and sustain change.” It also commends the Department for implementing the Child Stat process in which randomly selected cases are reviewed in-depth by a cross section of DHS management, supervisors and frontline staff. The report states that Child Stat “creates an accountability and feedback mechanism for staff and managers,” and will “allow the Department to quickly assess progress, target and correct impediments to progress, and continually improve performance.”
The report also states that during the past six months, the Department has demonstrated progress in four of the seven areas of concern noted in its last progress report including face-to-face visits, the implementation of child safety assessments, the enhanced child fatality review process, and expanding family group decision making.
In accepting the report, the Mayor thanked the COB for its hard work and dedication. “The COB has been vigilant in its efforts to improve the Department’s ability to ensure the safety, permanency and well being of Philadelphia’s vulnerable children and youth,” he said.
Ambrose, thanked the members of the COB for “generously committing their time, experience and expertise to improving Department’s services.” She said she was pleased with the report and acknowledged that, “The Department’s many accomplishments would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of DHS’ staff and provider agencies.”
For the next progress report the COB will focus on the monitoring of six outcome measures identified as key indicators of child safety, on which DHS will report on a regular basis. These include:
• Repeat child maltreatment;
• Child maltreatment rate while in foster care;
• Severity of repeat child maltreatment and length of time between incidents of child maltreatment;
• Length of stay in foster care and other placement types;
• Changes in the level of care in placements; and
• Re-entry into foster care and other placement types.
The Philadelphia Department of Human Services is the City agency charged with protecting children from abuse, neglect, and delinquency; ensuring their safety and permanency in nurturing home environments; and strengthening and preserving families by enhancing community-based prevention services. In partnership with community organizations, DHS provides services to strengthen the overall well being of Philadelphia children, youth, and families using a customer focused approach that is responsive to evolving community needs