Child Welfare Professionals
The Child Welfare system in Pennsylvania is a state-mandated, county-operated system.
This means that while the state legislature passes the laws and the state Department of Public Welfare issues policies and regulations, each county has some discretion in exactly how it provides services to its citizens. To help the County Commissioners make those determinations, counties set up an Office of Children and Youth Services, appoint an administrator and appoint a citizen's advisory board that is representative of the county.
Typically, the agency administrator reports directly to the County Board of Commissioners, although increasingly, Commissioners are appointing a Human Services Director to oversee children and youth services and the other categorical county social service programs (mental health, mental retardation, drug and alcohol, county nursing homes, area agencies on aging). The administrator also must ensure that the operations of the agency are in substantial compliance with all applicable state regulations in order to maintain a state license to operate.
The responsibilities of the County Children & Youth Agency (CCYA) include:
- Providing services to families to help prevent and/or resolve the problems of child abuse, dependency and neglect;
- Making all reasonable efforts to avoid out of home placement of the child consistent with a child's safety;
- If the Juvenile Court places a child outside of the home, to work with the child and family to return the child home as soon as possible. If that is not possible, then to recommend alternative permanent placement to the Juvenile Court.