Two Bills Aim To Improve Lives Of PA’s Foster Children
90.5 WESA – December 28, 2015
Act 75 of 2015 and House Bill 1603 came about a result of the 2014 federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, which mandated that every state had until Jan. 1, 2016 to pass laws that would help foster youth.  This page contributed by Krista Neuner

Downtown Pittsburgh center to serve youths aging out of foster care
Pittsburgh Tribune Review – December 25, 2015
To improve their outcomes, Allegheny County has joined with the nonprofit agency Auberle in establishing the 412 Youth Zone – a one-stop Downtown services hub for teenagers and young adults going through difficult transitions. The center, set for a partial opening next week and full operations by February, targets 16- to 24-year-olds who have used welfare assistance or become homeless.

Unless we’re careful, the new ‘No Child’ may still leave some behind (Opinion) – December 24, 2015
On its face, the changes in ESSA will do little to improve resource inequities, discipline disparities, or the lack of opportunities for educationally at-risk students in Pennsylvania.

Advocates want better monitoring of heroin’s child victims
The Richmond Register – December 23, 2015
The Center for Children’s Justice, in Berks County, is pressing the state Congressional delegation to lobby for better oversight of cases in which newborns are exposed to illegal drugs.

What is in the latest Pa. budget agreement?
Associated Press – December 23, 2015
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and state lawmakers had largely agreed on a budget package to end the state government’s 6-month stalemate before it collapsed Wednesday. It lowers costs by postponing over $500 million in payments for school construction projects, county child welfare services and school employee retirement costs into the following fiscal year.

Lawmakers aim for budget by week’s end
Associated Press – December 14, 2015
Pressure to resolve the fight has ratcheted up amid a social services sector increasingly crippled without billions in state aid and mounting borrowing by school districts and counties that could exceed $1 billion soon, if not already.

1st Anti-Child Abuse Grants From Penn State’s $48M Issued
Associated Press – December 09, 2015
The first round of grants to combat child sexual abuse in Pennsylvania was awarded Wednesday from a $48 million fund endowed by Penn State as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

Column: More dropped calls at child abuse hotline, as auditor investigates
Daily Item – December 04, 2015
Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas acknowledged during an interview Friday that 1 in 4 people who call the hotline get a busy signal or are put on hold so long, they hang up.

CHOP, St Christopher’s Doctors Staffing Facility For Child Abuse Victims
CBS – December 04, 2015
Philadelphia’s two leading children’s hospitals are joining forces for an unprecedented partnership to help kids who are victims of abuse. In an effort to help victims feel as comfortable as possible, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children will staff a suite at the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance facility.

Judge denies foster care group’s funding request
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – December 04, 2015
A Commonwealth Court judge has denied an injunction to a coalition of foster family agencies and group home service providers that had sued the state, hoping to compel the Department of Human Services to release funds during the ongoing budget impasse.

Is state’s child-abuse reporting system working? Audit seeks to find out – December 02, 2015
DePasquale announced on Wednesday his auditors last month began the first-ever state audit of this program overseen by Department of Human Services that runs the state’s child abuse hotline and processes applications for child abuse clearances.

House votes to move state insurance program for children into Department of Human Services
Associated Press – December 01, 2015
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has approved a bill that would move a program that provides health insurance for more than 150,000 children into a new department.–Childrens-Health-Insurance

GUEST COLUMN: Children held hostage in Pa. budget standoff (Opinion)
Pottstown Mercury – November 29, 2015
Amid all the political posturing and the hard lines drawn, there has been a complete absence of logic regarding funding for child protection in Pennsylvania during the current budget impasse. In this process, some of the most vulnerable residents of Pennsylvania are being put at risk.

YES shelter saves runaway, homeless teens from despair – November 29, 2015
Amanda Sinick remembers being an angry 13-year-old when the city’s Department of Human Services separated her from her siblings, sending them to foster care and her to YES on Fairmount Avenue near 16th Street.

The fight against human trafficking
WTAJ-TV – November 24, 2015
In 2009, Debbie Colton found her calling after she learned that three young girls she and her husband were fostering were victims of human trafficking. “At that time, there were less than 100 beds for these victims that had been rescued out of trafficking,” Colton, President and Founder of Oasis of Hope, said. “I just had a hard time sleeping at night, thinking of that.”

‘State of Child’ report: McKean Co. children faring well
Associated Press – November 25, 2015
Regarding child welfare, in McKean County, there were 468 children receiving in-home services, compared to the rural median of 956; 127 children in foster placement, compared to the rural median of 57; and 20 percent of children who re-entered foster care placement, compared to a rural average of 20.9 percent. Daniel Wertz, director of McKean County Children and Youth Services, acknowledged the number of children in foster placement during that time frame was high, but said that number changes often.

State Budget Impasse Impacts Columbia County Social Service Agency (Includes video)
WNEP – November 23, 2015
“It’s frustrating that child welfare is not considered an essential service at the state level because that would allow some money to continue to flow to the agencies to help provide services for a very vulnerable population,” April Miller of Columbia County Children & Youth Services said.

State budget impasse: counties may protest by keeping revenue owed state
Lancaster Online – November 22, 2015
Commissioners Dennis Stuckey and Craig Lehman said withholding revenue is worth exploring as Lancaster County sees reserves dwindle to support programs for children, the elderly and the mentally ill the state is supposed to fund.
Understanding The Difficulties Facing Children Of Incarcerated Parents (Audio)
90.5 WESA – November 18, 2015
Children of incarcerated parents face social, emotional and academic difficulties at a far higher rate than their peers. These kids are at increased risk for negative behavior and potential future criminal activity. One group, Amachi Pittsburgh, is working to stop the cycle of incarceration and provide opportunity for children.

National Adoption Month celebration focuses on family (Includes video)
Morning Call – November 13, 2015
The Lehigh County Children and Youth agency celebrated National Adoption Month by recognizing people who’ve raised awareness about adoption and permanency.
Leaders Work To Find Solution To Drug Problems in Families (Includes video)
WYOU – November 12, 2015
The Children’s Roundtable is a court-sponsored group that works to fight child delinquency and keep kids safe. The meeting was one of their many efforts.

Foster care population drops in Union County, and statewide
WITF – November 12, 2015
Fewer children need foster care in one midstate county, and their stays with families are also shorter, as the state emphasizes considering children’s emotional health.

Department of Human Services to Refine Keystone STARS Program (Press release)
PR Newswire – November 10, 2015
“We have already begun refining the program by removing some administrative burden, reducing receipts collection, and streamlining the grants and awards process,” said Secretary Dallas. “But that is just the first step. We are also taking advantage of technology for professional development and coordinating with other early childhood education programs.”

On Kenney’s agenda: Is DHS getting better at protecting kids? (Opinion) – November 09, 2015
Almost 10 years after a child’s horrific death triggered a call for reform, Philadelphia’s frontline social-service agency for children is still struggling to improve, and to cope with a swelling caseload as a new mayor arrives.

Today’s Editorial: Success stories emerging
The Daily Item – November 06, 2015
We are pleased to report news this week of successful efforts achieved by those who work in local family care programs.

Montco stops covering state’s bills
The Philadelphia Inquirer – November 05, 2015
Montgomery County stopped funding Thursday human services normally covered by the state, saying the four-month budget impasse had maxed out the county’s financial reserves. The state owes the county more than $30 million for foster care, child-abuse investigations, restaurant inspections, senior centers, and other services, many of which the state and county are mandated to provide.

Number of children in foster care drops in Union County
Daily Item – November 04, 2015
Union County children are spending less time in foster care and more time with family or adopted family as foster home placement dropped by nearly half compared to a five-year high.

Local Catholic Clerics To Be Fingerprinted For Child Protection Act
KDKA – November 02, 2015
Under the state’s new Child Protection Act, all clergy and diocesan employees who have any contact with children must undergo criminal background checks and have their fingerprints taken. Even unpaid volunteer teacher aids and catechism teachers, unless they’ve been a state resident for more than 10 years.

For fourth year, Diakon receives five year contract to manage Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network (Press release)
Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries – October 30, 2015
Diakon and Family Design Resources have partnered to serve as the SWAN prime contractor for the Commonwealth since 2000. During that time, 27,706 children have been adopted from the child welfare system. SWAN is a public-private partnership devoted to achieving permanency for children in foster care. SWAN involves state, county and private agencies coordinating the delivery of permanency services to children in Pennsylvania who are in the custody of county children and youth agencies and post-permanency supportive services to families.

Rewritten No Child Left Behind law will lessen emphasis on testing

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – December 10, 2015

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation after it was approved Wednesday in the Senate in an 85-12 vote. The bill would limit the role of the federal government in determining measures of student achievement. Instead, states and school districts can develop their own assessments for school and teacher performance, as well as intervention processes for struggling schools.


PA Immigration Jail Could Be Forced to Stop Locking Up Parents & Kids

Democracy Now – November 06, 2015

BRIDGET CAMBRIA: I can talk to you about our infant client. She came to Berks—I believe she was 11 days old. She was detained at nine days. During that time, she went to the hospital one time. She was seen for one hour in a hospital as a newborn. And from that, she was put on a plane and taken to Berks, where she remained for about two weeks before she was freed. And when she was finally released, she was released at 3:00 in the morning, in the middle of the night.

RENÉE FELTZ: Cambria says cases like this drive home how the Berks detention center fails to comply with Pennsylvania law.


Eastern PA Toy Run collects donations for Toys for Tots, Children’s Home of Reading

Reading Eagle – November 2, 2015

The ninth annual Eastern PA Toy Run on Sunday brought the Avengers, a nearly 7-foot-tall Santa Claus and about 350 motorcyclists to FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading. A crowd of about 500 cheered as the riders and about 85 others in four-wheelers and classic cars drove into the stadium lot to support Toys for Tots in Berks and Lebanon counties and The Children’s Home of Reading.


PNC provides winter coats to needy Erie children

Erie Times-News – November 13, 2015

This is the seventh straight year PNC has run Operation Warm, and nearly 1,000 coats will be donated by the company this fall to 20 preschools in northwestern Pennsylvania.


Negotiators put Pennsylvania budget talks on Saturday pause

The Morning Call – December 12, 2015

With state aid shut off to schools, social services and counties, school boards have begun to discuss staying closed after the winter holiday break and more programs are closing. Borrowing by school districts and counties is approaching $1 billion. The Department of Education says about 600 children from low-income families have lost access to state-subsidized early childhood education programs because of shutdowns.


One Step Toward Saving Child Health Program

Public News Service – December 3, 2015

A bill to reauthorize the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, passed in the Pennsylvania House on Tuesday but unless the Senate acts, the program will expire on Dec. 31. CHIP covers about 150,000 children whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford private insurance.


Two Bills Aim To Improve Lives Of PA’s Foster Children

WESA 90.5 – December 28, 2015

Two new pieces of legislation aim to offer improvements to the lives of the nearly 15,000 foster children in Pennsylvania. Act 75 of 2015 and House Bill 1603 came about a result of the 2014 federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, which mandated that every state had until Jan. 1, 2016 to pass laws that would help foster youth. The laws are intended to give youths in the foster system more of a sense of normalcy, said Jennifer Pokempner, supervising attorney at the Juvenile Law Center, an organization that works in this field. She said it will most help the 700-800 young adults who age out of Pennsylvania’s foster care system annually.


Merged United Way to reveal 5-year plan aimed at Western Pa. children – November 30, 2015

United Way officials intend to join representatives from Pittsburgh Public Schools and The Heinz Endowments as they detail a five-year strategy focused on supporting the social, emotional and academic needs of children. Elements include a new investment strategy, expanded programs and a bidding process “that will address the challenges facing Pittsburgh’s youth,” the group said in a short preview of the announcement.


National Adoption Month promoted in Pennsylvania

WFMZ69 – November 20, 2015

In Pennsylvania, adopting kids up to the age of 21 is free for families, with state subsidies given for financial help. Scrolling through the Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network gives you a small glimpse of the names and faces just waiting for a chance.


Pa. needs to address impact of drug abuse on children

Lancaster Online – December 26, 2015

This month, Reuters in partnership with NBC News released an investigative report — Helpless and Hooked: the most vulnerable victims of America’s opioid epidemic. Six-week-old Brayden Cummings died in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, and was featured in Reuters’ investigation. His mother, who was just 20 years old and well known to many systems (e.g., child welfare, courts, probation, health care, drug treatment), is in prison serving time for causing the 2014 sleep-related death of her only child. Reuters also highlighted the 2015 death of 7-week-old Anthony Donvito in Lackawanna County, who was “born drug addicted,” according to a report from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.


Is state’s child-abuse reporting system working? Audit seeks to find out

Penn Live – December 02, 2015

The world of child protection in Pennsylvania has turned upside over the past year or so with two dozen new laws put in place to bolster child safety along with new systems installed for reporting child abuse and neglect. Given all those changes spurred at least in part by the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale wants to take a look at how well the ones affecting ChildLine are working.


Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Approves $3.4 Million in Grants from the NCAA/PSU Endowment Act Fund

PR Newswire – December  09, 2015

Today, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) approved $3.4 million in grant funding from the Endowment Act Fund, which will be awarded to 44 entities throughout the Commonwealth that assist victims of child sexual abuse.  “This first round of awards under the Endowment Act focuses on programs that assist child victims and adult survivors of sexual abuse, children’s advocacy centers, victim service organizations that provide direct services, and training to treat victims of child sexual abuse,” Chairman Josh Shapiro said. “These grants are another step in our continuous efforts at PCCD to make certain that we are doing everything we can for victims of child abuse in Pennsylvania.”


Casey calls for action to protect drug-exposed newborns

The Philly Voice – December  23, 2015

The Pennsylvania-based child welfare organization Center for Children’s Justice asked for “immediate, not delayed action” in a letter signed by 24 other organizations representing children’s advocates, pediatricians, nurses, social workers and churches. The letter was sent earlier this month to Casey and other Pennsylvania lawmakers in Washington.