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Department of Human Services Releases COVID-19 Operational Recommendations for Child Welfare, Intellectual Disability and Autism Providers


Harrisburg, PA - The Department of Human Services’ (DHS) offices of Children, Youth, and Families (OCYF) and Developmental Programs (ODP) today released operational recommendations for providers of child welfare services as well as intellectual disability and autism services in Pennsylvania in response to COVID-19.

“The Wolf administration is committed to serving vulnerable populations every day, and that commitment will not waiver in the face of an emergency,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “We will ensure that delivery of services to children and families served by the child welfare system and individuals with an intellectual disability or autism will continue, and we are asking our providers to ensure the same.”

OCYF and ODP have developed the following operational recommendations, which will be updated and re-released on a recurring basis as new information becomes available:

  • Exercise and promote hygienic practices.
  • Review agency back-up plan and infection control procedures.
  • Report all suspected cases of COVID-19 to OCYF or ODP, as necessary.
  • Contact OCYF or ODP before making any changes to your business practice whenever possible. Examples of changes in business practices include, but are not limited to:
    • Suspending services at a service location such as temporarily closing a day program.
    • Reducing or eliminating the provision of community-based activities.
    • Restricting individuals’ abilities to receive services. 
  • Document what actions were taken and maintain evidence for why actions were taken. 
  • Stay Informed via the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ODP providers may contact the appropriate ODP Regional Office or email the ODP Regulatory Administration Unit at to notify ODP of a proposed change in business practice and/or seek guidance related to same. 

OCYF providers should contact their local OCYF regional office to notify OCYF of a proposed change to business practice and/or seek guidance.

DHS program offices are continuing to formulate recommendations for other provider communities and will publish guidance as it becomes available.

Visit the PA Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James - 717-425-7606

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