PA Child Welfare System in Disrepair

Hello, we’re Kathey and Rob Raskin of Las Vegas and we care about what happens to children throughout the foster care system.

Pennsylvania’s Auditor General has a report about fixing the state’s broken child welfare system. In September, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a “State-of-the-Child” report which found Pennsylvania’s child welfare system is sorely lacking. The report found caseworkers, who are frequently on the front lines of the health and safety of endangered children, are shorthanded, overworked, and lack the resources required to do their jobs well.

DePasquale visited many social services offices to determine how to remedy the situation. Some Northampton County case workers shared their experiences and stated the opioid crisis is adding to the problem.

Kevin Dolan, Administrator at Northampton County’s Children and Youth Division, stated, “We started going [areas in the] county we never went to before. Bethlehem Township, Palmer Township…areas where there is an upper income level but their [parents] are using.”

DePasquale stated, “Children are being horribly abused and neglected […] every day. In recent months, we’ve heard of toddlers being kept in cages, newborns left […] alone and starving school-age children locked in filthy rooms.”

“Yet, all told, Pennsylvania spent [over] $1.8 billion in 2016 to protect children,” he went on, “When I audited ChildLine, the state’s child-abuse hotline, […] found massive problems [which] required immediate action, I knew I needed to look further into how the entire child-welfare system was operating.”

DePasquale stated the results of that review are astounding.

“We spent [almost] $2 billion dollars in 2016, yet 46 children died and 79 [almost] died from abuse…” he stated. “What really disturbs me is […] nearly half of the children who died were in families that were already known to CYS.”

DePasquale also said, “We discovered, […], that York County had 90% turnover in its caseworkers in a 24-month period. Ninety percent. How do you have any continuity of care for these vulnerable kids and families? The answer is you don’t — and the kids suffer because of it.”

DePasquale stated it’s too late to concentrate on past mistakes which led to today’s unhinged system. He’s looking to the future, providing 17 recommendations for changes to remedy some of the deficits in the system.

“Child welfare […] is administered through a piecemeal system that doesn’t receive adequate resources from state or county governments. It’s not only a matter of providing adequate funding and resources but also […] of using the resources [they] have efficiently and effectively.”

His major suggestion is for DHS to craft an independent child protection “watchdog” position so one person within the department will oversee advocating for the state’s at-risk children. Other suggestions include refurbishing necessary training, minimizing paperwork, and evaluating whether using new technology could help caseworkers spend more time in the field.

According to DePasquale, “As a society, our goal must be clear. No child should ever be mistreated, because one abused child is one too many.”

We, Kathey and Rob Raskin, aim to stop DHR corruption in this country to protect our kids. If you have a complaint, go to our homepage and report it immediately. Then, contact your local representatives here to make a greater impact.

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