Cathy Utz PA Office of Children Youth and Families DPW

Just another WordPress site

Cathy Utz PA Office of Children Youth and Families DPW

next on the agenda is Cathy cuts and we of course of the office of children you’ve spent families of the Department of welfare and unless the secretary you have any other introductory remarks the floor floor is yours thank you short and still get in what we need to well that’s but again unless I’m not seeing anybody who’s who say hey wait a minute I want to get to lunch that we all came a long way 22 we’re getting into the meat of what we’re here to do so take take what time you need and we’ll we’ll get out of here before the Sun sets so I thought rather than go through all 51 slides that I pulled out just a few and rather than actually probably put them on the screen I have a couple here that I was just going to hit a pretty much the highlights because I think that Mr Sanders really has a lot of information that we all would be willing to hear and listen to so I’d rather defer our time because the Department will be around he’s traveled so far I think you probably want to hear him more than maybe you want to hear me so what I would start with is kind of slide three really talks about the office of children youth and families and a little bit about our structure organizationally and it focuses on our Bureau of Child and Family Services and we have four regional offices within that Bureau who actually go out and licensed each of the County Children and Youth agencies they licensed the private providers that deliver services on behalf of children and youth agencies and that’s only for placement services we do not licensed providers of in-home service we don’t have that authority under the Public Welfare code so i wanted to make that distinction for members of the task force it really is those placement providers that we have the licensing capacity over our regional office is each year license oh for close to 1,700 programs and so it within those four regional offices they’re doing that work with the staff that they have and we have a license capacity for children and placement of over 15,000 places for them to reside and in addition to doing the licensing and technical assistance work for the counties and providers our regional offices also investigate reports of suspected child abuse when the alleged perpetrator is an agent of the county agency so that would be a situation where perhaps it was a foster parent it was a residential staff member it was someone maybe perhaps an employee of a county agency or a private provider and so those investigations are done by our regional office staff as well and in 2010 they did over 2000 investigations themselves across the Commonwealth additionally the regional offices also are responsible for conducting the child fatality and near fatality reviews that are required under act 33 they do those reviews within six months and they are also participating on each of the County Children and Youth agency Act 33 review teams they sit as members and they listen to the cases as they’re being discussed within the county I’m in the county has 90 days to complete their reports on those cases additionally our regional offices are really focusing on making a shift in looking at the quality of services that are being provided within our system we recognize that we’re responsible for the licensure and looking at making sure we meet regulatory compliance but we’ve really begun to look at making sure that the services that we’re delivering through counties and providers of quality and they’re actually providing better outcomes for children and families and so in 2010 we started a quality service review process whereby each County within a phased-in period of time probably over the next five to eight years we would be doing quality service reviews where we look at a core set of elements that really aren’t looking at necessarily did you dot your I did you cross you know did you doubt your ideas across 40 did you do a plan within the time frames we’re really looking at those plans and saying you know what the plans are focused on really achieving outcomes for children and families moving forward moving away from really a paper-based process where we’re just looking at records to really talking to families talking to children talking to

providers talking with the court to find out do they all have a common vision for that family that they’re providing services to our they functioning as a team to make sure that they’re moving in the right direction we are currently doing those reviews in 11 counties within the Commonwealth this is our second year and all the counties are really receptive that have been part of that process and so what we’re doing then as far as licensing is we’re taking those same cases and we’re applying certain pieces of our licensing regulations that focus really on the safety components and the health components and then so it’s an abbreviated licensing and really more focused on the quality pieces so that’s been something that we’re you know extremely proud of with the support of Casey family programs we’ve been able to actually roll that out with in Pennsylvania and our focus is really on sustaining lasting change in counties and providers and within the Commonwealth because we recognize that what we were doing in the past really wasn’t having a lasting impact dr Christian really talked about the cases that continue to come back to the system and so really this provides us with the opportunity to be able to look and say why do families continue to come back what are we doing well within those families that are preventing them from coming back to our system and then how can we take what we’re learning about what we’re not doing so well and really lead to systems improvement and lasting change we also then have on slide six we talked about the bureau of policy programs and operations and that’s the bureau that i actually am responsible for and within that bureau we have two two or three divisions that are focused on development of policy from you know child abuse and neglect up through adoption and then the regulations that support that work we also have the division of operations and I think that folks are probably most familiar with that in that that’s where our state’s child abuse hotline child line is I’m housed and in 2010 we received over 1000 222 calls to the hotline and forty thousand of those were referred to counties as general Protective Services cases and then twenty four thousand were referred to counties as child abuse cases additionally we will get the cause that the miz o’connor talked about as well that are specific to cases where the perpetrator is not a perpetrator under the Child Protective Services law and we refer those directly to the district attorneys in each county and we provide a courtesy notification to the County Children and Youth agency on those cases in the event that they may be familiar with that family or working up working with them for another reason and we made over 3,000 referrals to law enforcement officials in the counties as well in 2010 part of that responsibility really changed in 2006 with the passage of acts 179 that required not only child line to take child abuse cases but when it really changed to say that we would take all referrals on child abuse regardless of who the perpetrator was and that’s when we actually saw an increase in the number of calls that we were receiving at the state’s child abuse hotline because all the criminal matters were also coming to us as well we also are responsible within the division of operations for all the child abuse clearances that are conducted by statute were required to complete those within 14 days and I get a notice each day about what day were on so like yesterday we were completing them within 11 days so that was kind of higher for us but generally we complete those clearances within a week one of the things that I also wanted to point out is that in November we had a significant increase in the number of calls to the state’s child abuse hotline particularly after the firing of coach Paterno and we had days where we had probably actually our rate increase by one hundred and ten percent so we really struggled to answer the calls that day we did you know miss a lot of calls but we put a plan in place where we met on a daily basis to talk about the number of calls that we were receiving what we were going to do we had to mandate over time for our staff we have 39 case workers who take calls on the child abuse hotline and then we have supervisors obviously who supervise this day after they were also taking child abuse calls and we had a plan whereby if we had gotten to where we were missing nine percent of her calls on a daily basis that we actually had staff within our policy division who

were going to begin to take child abuse calls I’m happy to say that we’ve actually decreased and we’re running probably about five percent right now in the number of calls that we’re missing so that’s down from where we had been one of the things that we’ve been doing is we look kind of like hour by hour and when we were getting calls and we were trying to predict a pattern to say is the first thing in the morning was it right after lunch when professionals came back was it at the end of the day and just when we thought we had a pattern in place something would come and it would change and so we found that it was really just caught out all over the board and if we began to plan for calls maybe at nine o’clock in the morning then they’d start to come at one o’clock and so we really paid attention now and tried to do the best that we could to figure out how we man that we did have staff that were coming in and we had changed some shifts around so we continue to do that I meet with our child line supervisors every other week right now we’re talking about what we need to do and how we actually make some systems changes to decrease that or threshold world where we would like to be is no more than six percent of our calls or dropped each day we do see I think the same thing that the county’s experienced that if we are having staff vacancies then we struggle more so than when we have a full complement of staff we currently have one vacancy for a child my caseworker right now that we’re hoping to fill in the next few weeks yes just a quick question that one hundred percent in increased calls was that a hundred percent of calls because of additional concerns of child abuse or was it people work people who are just yelling at you it was a combination of both we did get some calls about how we were the kind of the worst state in the nation and how could we let this happen so we did receive a fair share of those but then we’re really liking it too that after coach Paterno was fired I think that we saw that increase because people thought that while he may have followed what was in statute that he was fired because he morally perhaps didn’t do what folks thought that he should do and so there was a kind of a public cry I think that people were afraid that that might happen to them and so we had did we did see a spike and then that has since decline and we’re back to kind of our normal level we’re also them responsible for the operation of the interstate compact for children so any child who leaves Pennsylvania or comes into Pennsylvania for placement purposes within the child welfare juvenile justice comes through our division of operations as well and then we’re also responsible for overseeing all the grants and contracts to counties so our role is we actually do provide services to the Commonwealth’s constituents but we also really function more in an oversight capacity for counties and private agencies I did mention and I have slides in here that talk about the definition of who a mandated reporter is on slide 25 and 26 both before Act 179 and then after act 179 because it really changed not necessarily what was reported but when it was reported because in the past it was you had to have a reasonable cause to suspect that a child coming before you so the child physically had to be before the mandated reporter in order for them to actually cause that report to be made and act 179 then changed that and said that it had to be a child who was under the care guidance supervision or training of an agency and so no longer did the child just have to come before the them but they could hear information third hand I mean if they had reasonable cause to suspect based upon that information than they were mandated to report to us I also included in slide 27 and 28 additional reporting requirements for mandated reporters that you can take a look at because I know that is part of the focus of the task force on slide 32 we really talked about the federal outcomes and measures that we’re held to and the things that the federal government looks at when they come in and do their child and family services reveal for us and they are obviously that children are first first and foremost protected from abuse and neglect and that they’re maintained within their own home safely whenever appropriate that they really have permanency in their lives that when they come into the child welfare system that we do everything that we can to get them home in a quick manner and if we can’t then that we find permanency for them in another way and that we’re also looking

at their well-being outcomes so making sure that they have their educational and physical and behavioral health care needs met some of the strengths that I wanted to talk about from our town Family Services review that focus on safety really relate to the timely response to reports that County Children and Youth agencies in the regional offices were getting out to families in a timely manner once they receive the report lore talked about some of the timeframes earlier that many of the counties had expedited responses for children who were younger and that we had a strong array of services to meet child and family needs and that we completed risk and safety assessments on a regular basis and that we had a low recurrence of maltreatment some of the safety concerns were related to if we had a case that started out as a general Protective Services case but over the course of time it may have ended up being a child protective services case or a child abuse case we weren’t always as quick in transferring that case from a CPS to a GPS as we should have been that the number of reports of children who were abused in out of home placements was concerning and that while we were doing risk and safety assessments in a timely manner that they were focused primarily on looking at presenting problems rather than underlying issues and so we believe that that likely would lead to those recurrence in those GPS reports continuing to come back so our focus really has been now on looking at finding better ways to address those underlying issues as a result of the Child and Family Services review we had to complete a program improvement plan and it was really focused on child youth and family engagement in case planning because we’ve talked about some of the family engagement strategies that were employing and we believe that if we do a better family engagement from the start that then families will be able to respond more appropriately to services and become healthier as we go along we need to focus in ensuring that we’re providing timely permanence to children particularly children who were going through the adoption process it was taking us a long time to have children who were did have a goal of adoption to actually then have them adoption once the parental rights were terminated we did a good job of making sure that the adoption was finalized but it took us a long time from the point in time where the goal was changed to actually get that point and then I briefly talked about sustaining change and the last slide that you have slide 48 is really focused on our process for driving sustaining change we had a child and family services review in 2002 and then we had another one in 2008 and what we found was that many of the things that were noted as areas of concern in 2002 remained the same areas of concern in 2008 and we took a look at the program improvement plan that we had developed as a result of that 2002 review and it was really a compliance and task focused plan that said we would issue policy we would do certain things but that it really wasn’t focused on making the change at the local level and so we worked with through our partners with Casey family programs and the American public Human Services Association to adopt a model of really defining where we want to go as a system and we’re doing this in each of those 11 counties were doing the quality services reveal assessing where we are developing a plan that provides us a roadmap for how we’re going to overcome our current barriers and challenges implementing obviously those plans and then monitor they monitored news to the cute quality service reviews that I mentioned earlier and then we start the process over so that it’s right a circular process rather than a linear process which many of our efforts have been to date so with that I hope that was a brief overview for you Kathy can you talk to us a little bit more and define for us what a missed call is in Childline but also you mentioned drop call yes as their difference so we have we categorize two different types of calls we have abandoned calls where a person will call they will get into the queue so that they will be kind of on hold and then they terminate the call on their end and then we have missed calls where the person never gets into our queue so they never ring we no the number of calls that people are calling but they are totally dropped they never get to even in the keel is that because our capacity to handle those calls so we just have way too many

in the queue at certain times and so we never get to them yes okay could we turn to page 28 please of your slides which you didn’t highlight but I think we might want to spend just a minute or two discussing certain because it’s the reporting with institutions part of reporting laws and I think that I think there was some concern kind of in the Penn State situation where individuals were reporting up and then other you know and then obviously if the whole system collapsed and I assume that people would want to look at that part of the law although i will say coming from a hospital system where we think we have a decent system for reporting if you were to mandate that every person in this institution who knew of a possible child abuse case was mandated to report you would get a Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia potentially 45 calls about the same child yes because so many people touch that child at the hospital so could you just review this part with us and if you have any suggestions for kind of kind of where where where this you think this might best live or how it should work Thanks you know I can review it for it what what this really says is that within an institution or a school that each of the schools or institutions has to have a process in place whereby they determine how the report gets made to child line so that if it is a teacher or perhaps a nurse there’s one generally central point of contact for teachers nurses in institutions that they will talk to who then is responsible to make the report and so I think that inner dr. Christian is correct when she says that it seems like it’s a good process because you have one central point of contact we’re not going to then get you know numerous calls on the same call I think that we’ve seen also the converse where there have been situations where folks didn’t make a call you have a mandated reporter a teacher or someone who really thought and had concerns and they may have let their principal now and then the report didn’t get made because the principal may have said well I don’t know that it happened or they didn’t talk to the child so i think that there’s pros and cons probably to both and i think it would warrant you know a further analysis and walkthrough of what those pros and cons for be because i think that it could you know work in either way and I’ve seen both sides we’ve had a lot of folks who then have been concerned mandated reporters who will come to us and say you know I’m concerned they may not have a closure loop that that initial mandated reporter who saw the child that they may never know within their institution whether the report was actually made and we hear from them that they want to make sure that they’re fulfilling their duty and that they’re fulfilling their responsibilities so they go ahead and make the call I think some of the increases that we actually saw in November some of those were related to a mandated reporter who made it within their institution and they said I’m calling anyway and so I think that there are you know policies and procedures in place I think some may fear retaliation if they don’t know that their principal made the call and they make a call anyway even though the statute very clearly says you can’t have retaliation in those situations so I think there’s probably pros and cons to the way that it is okay and then I have one other question that I’ll turn over went in the cfsr is where we have strengths that include repeat maltreatment was low part of my concern is that our GPS system is not counted correct right so and I think everyone on this task force needs to understand that that if you look at state by state statistics Pennsylvania looks like the as I always say the kindest and gentlest state because we have maybe one tenth of the child maltreatment as any other state because GPS doesn’t get counted and so when we say repeat maltreatment was low could you define that because I think it really refers to maybe CPS Andrey CPS reports and and again it kind of goes to like how these two systems work or don’t work together yeah and I think that’s exactly what it is that dr. Christian it includes only CPS cases it does not include gps cases and as ms o’connor you know talked about earlier currently we do not have a statewide system that gives us that data because i must tell you i came to the department 13 years

ago and one of the first questions I asked was how many children start out as GPS cases and how many of them end up becoming CPS children and we couldn’t answer that question so it’s been a question that I’ve been one thing to a dancer for 13 years and we’re well on our way to actually having a system mrs O’Connor talked a little bit earlier about how we spent the last two to three years really trying to make sure that every County Children and Youth agency had a system in place and that our eventual plan is that we will take the information from each of those systems and put that into one statewide system and that will be able to get information we just talked with a county earlier this week who was working on their system and they can do some of the things and they were talking about these orange cards and they talked about how they’re just moving to an electronic system and they had orange index cards and that’s where they kept most of the information you know that was key on their families and everybody talked about the orange card and they went back to it so you know I think it’s pretty concerning that in 2012 you know that with the state to size of Pennsylvania that we don’t have an electronic record for a child welfare system but we’re on our way ok thank you this lets again thank you for what you do I’ve known you for a long time I have three questions who has access who can access the childline database for clearance purposes so in other words is there somebody that’s other than a DPW employee that can access childline to check for a clearance now because the information the child protective services law requires that that information is confidential it can’t be accessed by the public so that right now we have a paper-based process where an individual an applicant submits their request for clearance to us on paper and we send it back to them because you can only exchange information with certain individuals and so we just can’t go out and it’s different than the crime because the the crimes are public information and therefore you can access those usually through a pcs website or the state police website but we’re not permitted to do that because that information is confidential follow-up to that so law enforcement can’t tap into Childline database they cannot is there a fee associated with that screening process to the individuals seeking a clearance yeah the child abuse clearance for the department’s child abuse clearance it’s ten dollars there’s also a state police clearance that folks if they’re getting employment have to pay a night’s ten dollars as well and then there’s an FBI clearance that we do electronically and that’s approximately between 35 and 40 dollars when calls come in to child line is there a process by which those calls incoming calls somehow are prioritized in particular for those that are characterized as mandated reporters in other words if dr Christian were to call in with her call be received perhaps before my call another reserve as it should be anything for dr. Christian we’ve known her for a long time too now we don’t know who’s calling you know up to the point in time where we say you know hello child line and they tell us who they are so there’s really not a mechanism for us to be able to do that unless we had caller ID with everybody’s names and we would know that it was dr Christian colleague not you and then we would take her call first but now I you know we really don’t have the capacity to be able to do that until you know who’s on the other end of the call one of the things that we’ve been trying to do is we everybody calls the hotline because that’s the number they know so they call that number if they want to you know have a question about their child abuse appeal they call that number if they have a question about their clearance but we do have other phone lines to actually that are dedicated to taking those calls and so we just recently were able to include in our system the if you’re calling to report child abuse press 1 if you’re calling for a clearance press 2 if you’re calling for something you know the UH appeal press 3 and so that we were able to actually implement that to be able to dedicate our resources that are actually taking the child abuse calls to that and diverting others to the staff that handled the appeals but that’s the number that everybody knows and then my last question just to talk about the way mandated reporters as I understand the initial requirement is an oral report am I also correct understand within 24-48 business hours or needs to be a written report that’s that’s logged by the

manned a reporter right so there’s a requirement in the statute and regulation that says within 48 hours of the oral report that the mandated reporter has to submit the written report those see why 47 as it’s called to child line and then we send that to the counties as well and and then look when the investigation is ultimately concluded am I also correct understand that that mandate reporters to know the outcome of the status of the outcome whether it’s indicator founded or unfounded rather indicator unfounded that is communicated to that manned a reporter that it’s not communicated on a consistent basis by counties but that yes there is a the statute does permit a man a reporter at the conclusion of the investigation to get the status determination as well as whether any services were provided the general question it just occurred to me that like if you wanted a triaging system within phone calls to childline you can repeat your press button one if you are from a doctor’s office or a hospital press button to if you are this or that you know so I since you have the capability to just do another round thank you you’re welcome I’ve earned my lunch hello you did a great job then I just have a couple questions about childline I read in some of the materials that there is a Senate bill that’s being proposed to upgrade the phone system that you currently are using what is the status of that if you don’t know maybe staff and you know by night we actually work with our Bureau of information services on the upgrade and we were just told that that was put on hold again because we’re looking to do something a little bit different and I think it goes into the procurement process so right now it’s been on hold and so that the type of thing that you’re considering doing differently would it be more computerized so that paperwork would go faster to the counties or to law enforcement so it’s more of a comprehensive right overhaul than just changing the phone system absolute that fair yeah one of the things that we want to really be able to do is transmit the reports of suspected child abuse electronically back and forth between the department in the counties so that it provides you know less duplication of effort for us as well as for counties because what happens now is we will we may have you know particularly in some of the larger counties we may have three four or more reports and what we’ll end up doing is will call them and we’ll spend perhaps sometimes a half hour actually calling them to talk about each of those reports depending upon the number so having the ability to transmit that securely between the department in each of the counties would I think save time as well as safe counties time as well and we would build in an alert obviously that said you received a new report from Childline it would also give us that in the opportunity and the ability to be able to track those GPS cases over time and as ms o’connor mentioned four counties to be able to see records of families who have moved across county lines which we believe is critical as well and so if your project is on hold is that is there a time frame that has been given to you in terms of when it would be anticipated to be implemented or is it on hold from your end because it’s so comprehensive vers on hold from a funding end now it’s just the phone system upgrade that is on hold rit and our larger child welfare information technology strategy is not on hold and we’re progressing with that and then as far as the the caseworkers that actually handle these calls are they also do they also have bachelor’s degrees and jails okay and are they mandated to go to any sort of trainings on a regular basis or can you just tell me a little bit about who they are or what they do sure many of the case workers who work at childline likely have come from other County Children and Youth agencies and they come to the state because it’s a we were paying more than some of the counties were paying so that they came to the state from County so they came to us with you know a certain level of experience already we also get staff your current state employees who are transferring within the state Commonwealth system we do have a training period for each of them before they go in the hot line so we do and it’s proximately three weeks where we sit down and we do just on-the-job training where we talk to them about roles and responsibilities what the child welfare system is about what they need to do and then they actually are paired with a supervisor and the supervisor will take the child line calls and they will listen to the

supervisor interact with the caller and then it’s a point in time where that will then flip and the the caseworker will begin to take with the supervisor they are continuing to manage and so once we feel comfortable in the supervisor believes that the worker you know is asking the question so we have a standard set of questions that were you know asking for on each call and once the supervisor feels that they’re comfortable with the worker and the skills that they’ve progressed then we will let them put them on the hotline alone okay great thank you you’re welcome Thank You mr chairman it just occurred to me I don’t know if you can answer this Kathy I’m sure I think you can what is is there a mechanism once the county or DP WRC’s receives the initial referral suspected child abuse to begin the investigation is there a mechanism that goes out to potential employers of the alleged perpetrator you know I I know this is not about this Sandusky debacle but in this is much bigger but how does have their notices that go out to in those situations where the alleged perpetrator is engaged where you know the alleged perpetrator is engaged with children on a regular basis is there anything that happens there go to answer that in two ways um if the alleged perpetrator it’s a child abuse case where a person works in a childcare setting and they have allegedly abused their own child we are not permitted by statute currently to notify the employer of a pending investigation nor can we let them know at the end any of the results where we are permitted to have a conversation is when the person who is alleged to be the perpetrator if they are working in a child care service that child care service has to then have a safety plan in place for how they’re going to assure the safety of not only the victim child but also all of the other in their program so in that situation where the abuse allegedly occurred in a foster home in a residential program they would be aware of it in those situations but not if it was a who allegedly abused their own child if I could just to follow up if the referral comes in maybe the individual works in two different settings the the allegation is the perpetrator committed in a alleged incident of child abuse on a child within setting number a employment number a letter a but also that individual happens to be engaged in setting number B which also is engaged with children is there a way to reference and notify agency or entity number letter B now we would be able to work with agency a but we are not permitted to notify agency be like judge Grimm any questions from sucks all right here a few chairman all right thank you thank you very much for your abbreviated but very helpful presentation of course we have your whole packet of materials obliques each of the panel dust