DeLissio focuses on Pennsylvania's child welfare system during first Children and Youth Committee meeting of 2021

HARRISBURG, March 5 – As new minority chair of the House Children and Youth Committee, state Rep. Pam DeLissio participated in the first Children and Youth Committee meeting of the 2021-22 legislative session.

There are many members new to the committee and it was helpful to have the initial meeting focus on an overview of the child welfare system, commented DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila. For example, Pennsylvania is one of only 11 ­states that operates in a decentralized manner as each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties operates its own child and youth agency with oversight from the state.

Presenters included staff from the Department of Human Services and stakeholders representing associations that promote child welfare and related policy ensuring the health and well-being of children, youth, and their families.   

Information was presented on the importance of the ChildLine hotline (800-932-0313) in providing citizens a 24/7 resource to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

The need for additional support for child caseworkers, integral to making the system work, was discussed.

“These caseworkers experience much stress in carrying out their duties and we need to ensure that the paperwork aspect of their jobs is not redundant or duplicative, but necessary to assess the needs of the children and their families when they need it the most,” DeLissio said.

The courts play a critical role in the child welfare system and the Court Improvement Program is a decade long initiative to educate the judges who sit on these courts. The program provides dependency court judges education, training and support to help them best handle child abuse and neglect cases.

"This meeting was the first of a series of meetings over the next several weeks. As these meetings take place, I will be listening to identify those areas of law that need to be enhanced or changed to better serve our children and their families,” said DeLissio. "I look forward to building on this discussion with my colleagues and finding bipartisan solutions that strengthen the programs and services intended to put the safety of our children first."

The Feb. 25 meeting included testifiers from the Office of Children, Youth and Families; Pennsylvania Children and Youth Administrators Association; Bureau of Family and Child Services; and the Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas.