Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Val Arkoosh today announced DHS is providing enhanced on-site assistance to Blair County Children, Youth and Family Services (BCCYFS) following the recent issuance of a third provisional license to the agency. The third provisional license was issued because the county continues to have challenges operating and delivering child welfare services as expected and required. DHS and the Shapiro Administration are committed to working with BCCYFS to ensure families are receiving support and children are being protected.
"Our county human services partners do essential work every day and play important roles in their communities and for the residents they serve. In Blair County, children and families need a functioning, effective child welfare agency that investigates reports of child abuse and intervenes, when necessary, with family supports that prevent abuse and neglect to children," said Acting Secretary Arkoosh. "My team is committed to helping Blair County stabilize this important resource so they can meet their obligation to their community and the children they protect."
On Monday, June 5, staff from DHS' Office of Children, Youth, and Families (OCYF) began providing enhanced technical support to BCCYFS, with multiple DHS OCYF staff on-site full-time to support Blair County staff. An experienced team from OCYF's Central Regional Office, which has already been meeting weekly with BCCYFS staff, will also work with county officials to develop and implement strategies that address backlogged reports of potential child abuse or neglect, assist with staff recruitment and development, and successfully administer this essential community resource.
Pennsylvania is a state-supervised, county-administered child welfare system. The county-administered system means that child welfare services are organized, managed and delivered by 67 County Children and Youth Agencies (CCYAs), with staff in these agencies hired as county employees. Each county elects its county commissioners or executives who act as the governing authority. OCYF licenses CCYAs to provide essential child welfare operations, which includes case management services, investigations of potential abuse and neglect, foster care coordination and monitoring, and other supportive services. When a county is unable to or inadequately supports these operations or is non-compliant with laws like the Child Protective Services Act, OCYF issues a six-month provisional license that requires the county to submit a plan of correction, which OCYF then monitors to ensure the plan is followed.
Blair County received its first provisional license in May 2022, and since that time, BCCYFS has continued to experience significant staffing challenges and vacancies that are affecting its ability to perform its core responsibility of completing child protective services and general protective services investigations within timeframes set in statute.
For more information on DHS and child welfare services in Pennsylvania, visit www.dhs.pa.gov and www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov.