York County Children, Youth and Families had as many as 29 caseworker vacancies last year. As of June 3, the agency was operating with just six.
York County has maintained its status of being third highest in Pennsylvania for the number of child abuse referrals. While there was a decrease in these referrals, the county had an increase for General Protective Service’s referrals for neglect.
Caseworkers in our local child welfare agency are, in a sense, first responders without a uniform. When called to a home where abuse is suspected, they're entering a mysterious place with potential perils as they approach people who don't want their attention and bemoan public intervention on behalf of the government. The stigma that a caseworker is there to take a child from his home unfortunately persists, even though this is never a caseworkers' initial goal.
Laws require the agency to make reasonable efforts with families to provide services that will help families remedy the conditions that brought them into the child welfare system so that children can remain in their own homes safely. When a children’s safety cannot be ensured in the home and they are removed, the first goal is to reunite them with their family as soon as possible.
Caseworkers are required to work long hours with extreme demands, little appreciation, great criticism and dramatic impacts on their own personal lives. Yet because of their courage, sacrifices, passion and advocacy for York County children and families, we have seen positive outcomes related to children involved in our system.
In comparison to other similar-sized counties, York County is performing well when it comes to the median length of stay for children who are removed from their home and placed in out-of-home care. Children removed from their homes in York County spend much less time in out of home care than children do in other counties in Pennsylvania. Also, York County children who are reunified with their families are less likely to come back into care than in other counties statewide.
York County Commissioners' recognize child welfare professionals with proclamation (York, PA).
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