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Human Services, Department of

[Record group 84]
Alternative/Former Names
Public Welfare, Department of

Agency home page.
Agency Function
Philadelphia's Department of Human Services' mission is to strengthen and preserve families in the communities in which they live - neighborhoods throughout the city. The services the department provides are family-centered, community-oriented, culturally appropriate, and always founded upon one basic principal: to work in the best interests of this city's families.

Administrative Subunits
Administration and Management
Provides fiscal, contract, policy, personnel, and computer systems services for the other three divisions.
Children and Youth Division
Investigates all reports of suspected abuse or neglect. All reports of serious neglect or abuse are investigated within 24 hours. Other services can include services to children in their own homes, placement in foster or group homes, and adoption. A range of support and educational groups helps parents be more effective parents and communicators.
Juvenile Justice Division
This division has two parts: the Youth Study Center, Philadelphia's detention center for youths awaiting a court hearing and/or transfer to a long-term placement, and Court and Community Services.

Within the Youth Study Center, delinquent juveniles are provided with medical, mental health, and social services. Although most youths remain in the center for less than 20 days, Philadelphia's Board of Education maintains a full-time school curriculum and schedule for all school-age youths.

Court and Community Services offers community-based detention services, programs designed to divert youth from the juvenile justice system, and a court liaison service, which works with the Family Court Probation Officer.

Riverview Home for the Aged
Riverview serves anyone over the age of 18, but especially the elderly, having a low income, and with physical or mental disabilities requiring assistance in daily living. The goal for residents at Riverview is to be stabilized in a protective environment so that they return to a lower level of care, such as an independent or assisted community living arrangement or to maintain those who cannot step down to a lower level of care at the highest level of function possible.

Other divisions in the history of the Department of Public Welfare have included:

Bureau of Charities and Correction
House of Correction
Bureau of Personal Assistance
Philadelphia County Prisons
Social Service Division
Child Welfare Advisory Board
Bureau of Child Care (Bureau of Colored Children) Bureau of Legal Aid
Bureau of Music
Bureau of Recreation
Bureau of Social Service

Agency History
DHS was created in 1919 and composed of the Bureau of Charities and Correction, Bureau of Recreation, Bureau of Legal Aid, and the Bureau of Social Services, which was retitled in 1924 the Bureau of Personal Assistance. The Bureau of Charities and Correction resulted from a merger of the Bureau of Charities transferred from the Department of Public Health and Charities and the Bureau of Correction from the Department of Public Safety, and administered the City's Home for the Indigent ("Riverview") and the House of Correction. At the time of this transfer the Bureau of Charities' control of City hospitals was transferred to the Bureau of Hospitals then-established within the Department of Public Health. The Bureau of Recreation was successor to the Department of Recreation, temporarily abolished in 1919, and administered the City recreational facilities that the Department had. The Bureau of Legal Aid was established in 1920 to provide legal counsel for those who could not otherwise afford it, and went out of existence in 1933, its place being effectually taken by the privately incorporated Legal Aid Society and the Philadelphia Voluntary Defender Association. The Bureau of Social Service (later, the Bureau of Personal Assistance), also created in 1920, was assigned the duties of obtaining knowledge of social conditions within the City and determining, promoting, and coordinating measures for their improvement. A Bureau of Unemployment Relief was created, and expired, within the Department in 1932 to administer funds received from the State of Pennsylvania under the Talbot Act of December 20, 1931. The Department of Public Welfare was continued by the terms of the City Charter of 1951, but with the re-establishment then of the Department of Recreation the Bureau of Recreation was abolished and its functions transferred to the independent Department. The Bureaus of Charities and Correction and of Personal Assistance were also abolished at that time, the latter's functions being expanded and dispersed throughout the various offices of the Department, and Riverview and the House of Correction being administered thereafter by Boards of Trustees established for each. In 1951 also the Board of Inspectors of the County Prison was abolished and control of the City's prisons (and the House of Correction) was placed in the hands of a Board of Trustees operating similarly within the Department. In December 1984, the name of the department was changed from the Department of Public Welfare to the Department of Human Services (DHS). In 1988, as a result of Mayor's Executive Orders 5-88 and 6-88, two of these welfare functions, Prisons and Services to the Homeless and Adults were transferred from DHS and established as separate offices reporting directly to the Managing Director.

Archival Records
84.1 Annual Reports (1921-1922, 1953-1970, 1972-1978)

84.2 "Background Material" (1952-1956)

84.3 Reports and Publications (1956-1959, 1967, 1990)

84.4 Specifications, Extension and Improvement of Riverview Home for Aged (1955)

84.5 Internal Audit of Children's Cases (1952)

84.6 Bureau of Charities and Correction. Annual Report (1920, 1922-1923, 1948, 1950)

84.7 House of Correction / Tailoring Division. Monthly Record (1920-1924)

84.8 Bureau of Personal Assistance. Annual Report (1948)

84.9 Board of Trustees, Philadelphia County Prisons. Annual Reports (1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1977-1981, 1985-1991)

84.9a Board of Trustees, Philadelphia County Prisons, Reports & Publications (1952-1966)

84.9b Philadelphia Prisons: Detention Center, Inmate Folders (1972)

84.10 Social Service Division, Closed Case Files (1972 and prior)

84.11 Child Welfare Advisory Board, Stenton and Callowhill Child Centers. Annual Reports (1963, 1964)

84.12 Board of Trustees, Home for the Indigent Aged (Riverview). Reports and Annual Reports (1954-1955)

84.13 Trustees of the House of Correction; Reports and Publications (1952-1955)

84.14 House of Correction Project, Temple University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry. Annual Report (1960)

84.15 Foster Home Records (1957-1972)

84.16 Bureau of Child Care, Case Records (1937-1967)

84.17 Services to Children. Annual Report (1953)

84.18 Youth Conservation Services. Annual Report (1963)

84.19 Riverview Home for the Aged. Death Charts (1972-1973)

Current Records
Program Descriptions
Requests for Proposals
Project Descriptions

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Last updated on April 24, 2000