Philadelphia, April 15, 2013– Mayor Michael A. Nutter received the Community Oversight Board’s (COB) 2013 Annual report for the Department of Human Services, which commends DHS for its significant progress in implementing the 37 recommendations from the Child Welfare Review Panel (CWRP), including the completion of 20 recommendations that develop safety and risk assessment tools, improve accountability, create a new mission and core values centered on child safety and integrate the mission and values into policy and practice.
“I want to thank the Community Oversight Board for their commitment to working with DHS to ensure safety, permanency and the well-being of children served by DHS,” said Mayor Nutter. “The City of Philadelphia thanks both the COB and DHS for their dedication to our City’s vulnerable youth and look forward to continued collaboration to improve the services our City provides.”
The COB also detailed the creation of the Older Youth Working Group in June 2012 to better understand the issues that older youth face and improve outcomes for older youths, ages 13 to 21, in the Philadelphia child-welfare system. In the report, the COB outlined its strategy to identify gaps in programs and services and develop recommendations for cross–system collaboration, including assessing the education and behavioral health systems in place for DHS older youth.
“The Community Oversight Board commends Mayor Michael Nutter, Deputy Mayor Don Schwartz, DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose and the DHS leadership team for the continued improvements in the City’s care of its most vulnerable children,” said David Sanders, Chairman of the COB. “We are particularly pleased with the city’s initiation of its ‘Improving Outcomes for Children’ initiative which we believe will more fully engage the citizens of Philadelphia in assuring the safety of abused and neglected children. The Community Oversight Board is confident that the lessons learned from Danieal Kelly are resulting in improvements that will keep children safer.”
Of the 17 remaining recommendations, DHS has implemented 8 recommendations that address child visitation, child fatality review, the conduct of criminal background checks, the provision of health and behavioral health services and the implementation of technology to support social work practices, which the COB will continue to monitor. The other 9 recommendations, including co-location of DHS, SVU, child advocates and members of the District Attorney’s office in one facility, are being addressed through the implementation of the Improving Outcomes for Children initiative, which will reorganize the roles of provider agencies and DHS staff.
DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose added, “The COB has been an invaluable partner to DHS. Their input and feedback has been critical in the development of IOC, which we believe will improve safety, accountability and cultural competence throughout the child welfare system.”
In addition, Mayor Nutter appointed four new members to the Community Oversight Board:
- Shelly Yanoff, former Executive Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth;
- Todd Lloyd, Child Welfare Policy Director, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children;
- Tracey Williams, member, Achieving Reunification Center; and
- Ameera Sullivan, Temple student.
The COB was reestablished by Mayor Nutter in January 2008 and is responsible for monitoring DHS progress in its reform efforts and for making recommendations to improve DHS policy and practices.
To read the full report, log on to http://www.phila.gov/dhs/pdfs/FINAL_Report%20on%20Progress_Electronic%20Version_04092013(R).pdf.