Mayor Michael A. Nutter received the Community Oversight Board’s (COB) 2014 Annual report for the Department of Human Services, which recognizes DHS’s successful implementation of twenty-one of the thirty-seven recommendations by the Child Welfare Review Panel (CWRP). Of the remaining sixteen recommendations, ten are being implemented through the Improving Outcomes for Children initiative, a community-based service delivery model, and six recommendations have been implemented and sustained by DHS and will continue to be monitored by the COB.
“The Community Oversight Board has been a remarkable partner in the City’s efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of the children and families in our care,” said Mayor Nutter. “The Board’s dedication, commitment and service to the children of Philadelphia help DHS ensure high quality services. I would like to thank the Board for their ongoing support throughout this process to make better child welfare practices in Philadelphia.”
During 2013, the COB focused on monitoring the ten recommendations of the CWRP that are being addressed by the IOC initiative. IOC is a new case management system that utilizes community-based service providers, called Community Umbrella Organizations (CUAs), to work with children and families served by DHS, while DHS staff monitors, supervises and provides quality assurance measures. In total, all ten CUAs have been selected and four, NorthEast Treatment Centers (NET), Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM), Turning Points for Children, and Catholic Community Services, have begun receiving referrals.
Another CWRP recommendation addressed by IOC – the co-location of DHS, Philadelphia Police Special Victims Unit, Children’s Alliance and staff from the District Attorney’s Office into one facility, which will assist in streamlining investigations for child victims of sexual abuse – was completed in August 2013.
“The Community Oversight Board is extremely excited about the department’s implementation of IOC. The mayor, deputy mayor and department commissioner are all to be commended for their vision and persistence in this effort,” said David Sanders, Chair of the Community Oversight Board. “We recognize the challenges facing the city in undertaking this next step in the reform of its child protection system and have high praise for the well-informed deliberative, transparent and inclusive process.”
Furthermore, the ongoing development of a “continuous quality improvement” (CQI) system has assisted in the collection, review, monitoring and improvement of service delivery. The CQI implementation, in concert with the IOC system, will ensure accountability and data-driven decision making by the department regarding child outcomes. DHS will be better able to track the impact of services on children and families and react quickly and flexibly to necessary improvements.
“Much has changed at DHS in the past six years, as can be seen in the COB report,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity Dr. Donald Schwarz. “Monitoring, oversight and a razor-sharp focus on the safety of children and strengthening of families are now the watchwords of the agency. IOC arose from the work of the COB and is fundamentally about accountability and safety. It represents genuine transformation in how our city provides care for its children.”
DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose added, “I am grateful for the support and guidance of the Community Oversight Board as we complete the system transformation called Improving Outcomes for Children. This report details the progress we have made, yet at the same time highlights the need for further reform. We are committed to continuing to improve the manner by which we deliver services to the children and families of Philadelphia.”
The COB was re-established 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.