Pennsylvania's child dependency system shall:

  • Identify all possible practices and strategies that address the needs of a child and family and encourage solutions which do not require court intervention.
  • Recognize that a child should be reunified with his or her parents whenever possible and, if not, then with other family members.
  • Understand the need for urgency in service delivery and decision-making for those children who do require court intervention.
  • Whenever possible, employ non-adversarial court processes including facilitation and mediation strategies as a means for resolving concerns.
  • Employ family finding strategies in recognition of the potential trauma caused by family separation.
  • Employ decision-making and planning strategies that are family driven.
  • Employ family engagement strategies as a means of insuring strength-based family centered skills for professionals serving children and families.
  • Employ non-adversarial, family-driven planning strategies at the initial stages of the dependency process and at any other stage at which a plan is being developed or updated.
  • Assure timely and thorough court hearings and expeditious decisions for each child.
  • Assure competent legal representation for children and parents before a shelter care hearing and throughout the legal process.
  • Ensure that the voices of parents or other caregivers are heard at each stage of the process.
  • Employ concurrent planning for permanency as each case commences and at every stage of the proceedings.
  • Minimize the length of time children must spend in foster care and other temporary living situations.
  • Accomplish timely permanency for every dependent child according to the law.
  • Terminate court intervention in the life of a child when that child is no longer dependent.
  • Identify, create and implement additional systemic improvement practices.
  • Ensure that recruitment activities are fully pursued to identify the best adoptive family for those children who cannot return to their families.
  • Ensure close coordination with Orphans' Courts aimed at finalizing adoptions in a timely manner.
  • Recognize that permanent legal custodianship is a viable option when reunification or adoption is not possible.
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