The Adolescent Unit provides services to adolescents and their families. Clientele are defined as abused neglected adolescents who exhibit numerous adjustment difficulties such as: parent child conflict, truancy and school problems, abuse of drugs and alcohol, teenage pregnancy, psychological/emotional difficulties, learning disorders and delinquency problems. Youth are served within their own homes, foster care, community based facilities and residential facilities.
The Concurrent Planning Unit consists of five Caseworkers and one Social Services Aide. This unit was developed as a response to the Adoption and Safe Families Act, in an effort to ensure that children placed in foster care placement achieve a permanent plan in a timely manner.
The Child Welfare Standards of safety, permanence, timeliness and well being are woven though this unit's practice.
Its main function, permanency planning, is achieved through the casework model. Each caseworker, along with the family, develops, monitors and updates Family Service Plans which seek to aid the family in the return home of their children. Family visitation, court preparation, linkage to community services, family support, and ASFA related documentation comprise the duties of the Concurrent Planning Caseworker.
As the name "Concurrent Planning" suggests, caseworkers in this unit are considering dual plans when working with families. If necessary the goal of termination of parental rights and adoption is explored and considered when the grounds exist.
As always, the best interest of children is always considered in the casework model, as are the standards of timeliness, safety, well being, and permanence.
The CPS / GPS Intake Unit assesses all reports of abuse or neglect. Following Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public Welfare laws, regulations, and guidelines and Luzerne County procedures and policies, the intake department evaluates each child and family using a comprehensive risk and safety assessment methodology and casemanagement techniques. The unit determines if the child is abused or neglected and takes appropriate measures to ensure the safety. Services are provided within the home environment and sometimes through separation of the child(ren) from the family. The CPS/GPS Unit is staffed by five caseworkers, one social service support worker, and one supervisor. The department assesses reports of abuse and/or neglect received through the Screening Unit or during the after hours crisis coverage. The unit evaluates the family's needs while ensuring the safety of the child(ren) and determine if the family should be served by Luzerne County Children and Youth Services and/or another community agency.
Additional duties include assessing requests from the Juvenile Court to complete custody assessments, as well as providing short-term ongoing protective services. Court related issues of dependency; Protection From Abuse Orders are also part of the Intake Unit's job duties.
Public information is provided the community through speaking engagements and meetings with the community and workers such as medical staff, teachers, daycare workers, and foster parents.
The Child Protective Services Ongoing Unit provides intensive casework services to children and families where physical, sexual, or emotional abuse has occurred, or there is a high risk of abuse occurring.
The unit works intensively with these families identified as high risk, to assess the family functioning, identify the needs and risk factors within the system and then coordinate with the family and other community agencies to develop comprehensive treatment goals and a concrete plan of service delivery that meets the specific needs of each family.
The majority of the children being served by the CPS Ongoing Unit remain in their own home with the goal being to preserve the family intact. When placement is necessary to ensure the safety of the child, the role of the CPS Ongoing Caseworker then focuses on exploring extended familial resources while sustaining those appropriate familial relationships already established and working with the family to reduce the risk factors that necessitated placement in order to reunite the family. If the goal of reunification can not occur, the CPS Ongoing Caseworker ensures that the child achieves permanence in an alternate setting that provides a safe, nurturing environment and allows them to attain their fullest potential.
The combined Child Protective and General Protective Services ongoing unit provides both Child Protective and General Protective treatment services to children and their families.
The CPS workers provide intensive casework and counseling services to families where child abuse has been substantiated. The CPS worker offer their families individual, and family therapeutic services, as well as, develop effective treatment plans with the family, resource providers, and the legal system when court action must be taken. The CPS Worker’s responsibly is to met with the families once a week to work together on the developed treatment plan to prevent further abuse, and to ensure the safety of the children.
The General Protective Caseworker provide casework services to children and families to obtain appropriate treatment services to meet the families needs and to prevent further child neglect.
Both CPS/GPS caseworkers utilize the community resources, coordinate the services and ensure that the children and families needs are being met. They also work with families whose children are out-of-home placements, whether that be foster care, formal or informal kinship care. The goals of this unit is to ensure the safety of the children, to preserve families, to network family and community to equip families with the necessary knowledge to prevent future child abuse/neglect.
The General Protective Services Ongoing Unit provides services to dependent or neglected children, age 0-18 years of age and their families.
General Protective Services Ongoing Unit provides Casemanagement services to children within their own home to reduce the risk of abuse and neglect. This unit provides casemanagement to children in placement whose goal is to return home, placement in home of relative, another planned permanent living arrangement, adoption, placement with a permanent legal custodian or Independent Living. An assessment is conducted and a treatment plan is developed in conjunction with each family to address their particular needs and identified problems. Services include casemanagement, individual, family or group counseling, provided either directly by the assigned worker or arranged and coordinated with other social service agencies. Counseling included but is not limited to, assessment, if parenting issues and/or family problems that contribute to child neglect or abuse, instruction of parenting techniques, discipline and child development, as well as support and conduct services. In addition, services to maintain the foster home placement are coordinated with each foster family in order to promote stability, consistency and permanency for each child in care.
The Hazleton Center has implemented monthly meeting with various community agencies and facilities in an effort to coordinate and monitor services to our families. In addition, A Children and Youth representative is a permanent member of the Child and Adolescent Service System program (CASSP) Team that meets every other week in the Hazleton Area.
In January of 2006, the Hazleton office expanded, adding an additional intake worker and an ongoing worker to the office. With this expansion, it was required that an additional supervisor be hired to supervise ongoing general protective services.
This position is responsible for primary screening and telephone coverage to receive all new referrals to the agency regarding child abuse and neglect.
Receives all crisis sheets after clearing and determines appropriate distribution to CPS, GPS Intake, Hazleton, SAAU, and/or other community resources.
Determines the appropriateness of Children and Youth Services intervention and performs preliminary screening assessment on the child(ren) being referred. Refers to community resource. Alerts the Intake Supervisors of those referrals which may require an immediate response by the agency.
Documents referral data on an agency intake assessment form as per agency procedures. Completes accompanying computer data entry information. Provides a response to the referral source, including telephone, written and in-person contacts, when appropriate. Distributes the referral information to the appropriate unit.
Proved the information and referral to other community agencies. Contacts the appropriate community agency mandates, polices, procedures and services.
This worker interprets programs, policies and procedures to individuals, groups and agencies regarding referral process and Children and Youth Services agency service delivery.
This work meets on a regularly schedules basis with the Child Protective Services Intake Supervisor and is assigned additional related duties by all Intake Supervisors. This worker participates in schedules meetings with intake department, agency staff meetings, training, workshops and seminars.
INTENSIVE FAMILY PRESERVATION UNIT
Act 35 of 1989 is Pennsylvania’s statue that governs the child welfare IFPS program. The IFPS is designed d to protect children and simultaneously prevent family disruption by reinforcing the family’s inherent strength and capacity to identify solutions (PA Child Welfare Competency Based Training definition). Over 750 families and nearly 2300 children have been served since inception of IFPS in this agency.
Services in the home and community
Accessible and flexible- (24 hours/day, 7 days/week)
Intensive services-(520 hours per family/week)
Small caseloads-(2-5 families/per worker in a team approach)
Short-term crisis intervention (12 week max)
Immediate response (24 hours)
Concrete services and counseling
Limited, achievable goals
Family Preservation subscribes to these values and beliefs:
...children need families
...child’s safety is first concern
…most family members really care about each other
…troubled families want change
…everybody is doing the best they can at the time
…a crisis is an opportunity for change
…inappropriate intervention can do harm
…power for change resides in the family
…instilling hope in the family system is essential
Family Preservation Services relies on the assumption that crucial to fostering the stability of the child at risk is the consistent provision of both soft and hard services. All services are provided to families in their homes; are intensive, flexible and short-term; are provided to the family as a unit, seek to build on a family’s strength; are provided by staff trained in the philosophy and techniques of family interventions; and at least one of the caretakers agreed to participate in the program.
Did you know?
A typical 12 week intervention, very intensive and requiring several hours a day, is equal to two years of conventional “counseling”. Studies have determined evidence of higher levels of child abuse being correlated with poverty, racial segregation, unemployment, inadequate housing and single-parent and step parent households. Depression, substance abuse and unwanted pregnancies are compounded highly by material deprivation. IFPS handles these areas with families.
KINSHIP CARE UNIT
The Kinship Care Unit of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services provides many services to families whose children live with a relative or friend of the family. The unit acts as an information pathway to families who need information on formal or informal kinship care.
Workers on the unit complete home studies on those families who are interested in the formal kinship care option, where they become kinship care foster parents for the agency. If a family is approved as a foster family, the caseworker remains connected to that family as the foster care support worker. The unique aspect of this unit is that if a resource family opts for formal kinship care and is approved, the caseworker will, in most cases, become the worker for the biological family case of the children in the home as well. The unit accepts cases where a majority of the children live in a formal kinship care setting.
When a family is interested in the informal kinship care option, workers on the unit are available to meet with them to provide information on resources that may be available to them. Workers can help a family access the county assistance office as well as programs such as WIC, support groups, and grandparent education events.
The unit also completes kinship foster home studies for interested parties looking to be a resource for children from other states who may be placed through the Interstate Compact system. If a resource home is approved for a child from another state, the caseworker becomes the worker for the resource family, but the worker will also supervise the placement for the other state and provide supportive services for the placement. Workers are responsible for providing supervision reports to the sending states on a quarterly basis.
The Parenting Center offers several programs sponsored by Luzerne County Children and Youth Services designed to enhance family life by providing a wide variety of services. The programs in the Center assist families with children ranging in age from birth to 4 years. The intent is to focus on the parent/child dyad, allowing for positive attachment and bonding to occur, thereby reducing the need for separation during this critical period of development. Established programs, as well as new and innovative parenting programs, are available to meet the needs of parents and children alike.
The Parenting Center is a resource that can help ensure the best possible development of our children through the teaching of parenting skills and support in a treatment role via a day program format. Individual, family, group, and parent/child dyads are used. Mothers and children from birth to 4 years participate with staff in a structured setting which provides skill training to meet physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of both. Treatment activities include crafts, nutrition, education, communication, medical care, and community trips for fun and learning, psychological testing is conducted in connection with the Children's Service Center.
One of the recurring themes running through parent/child interaction is: "Play is the work of children". The Parenting Center provides an environment for discovery experiences and social stimulation for parent and child. As we engage in age appropriate developmental games and other activities with our families, we see parents become more confident, relaxed, and able lo help their children learn and grow.
v To reduce the risk for abuse
v To create an atmosphere where the participants can reach their full potential as nurturing parents
v To reduce the risk for separation
v To teach parents how to grow with their children thereby lessening the stresses associated with each stage of development
v To reach parent who might not otherwise have an alternative for learning positive parent/child interaction
v To help children experience positive environments that constitute healthy growth and development
The Parenting Center also provides father's groups, special activities, intake services, speaking engagements, and foster care groups. Annually 100 families are served.
The Concurrent Planning Unit consists of five Caseworkers and one Social Services Support Worker. This unit was developed in an effort to ensure that children placed in foster care placement achieve a permanent plan in a timely manner.
The Child Welfare Standards of safety, permanence, timeliness, and well-being are woven through this unit's practice.
Its main function, permanency planning, is achieved through the casework model. Each caseworker, along with the family, develops, monitors and updates Family Service Plans which seek to aid the family in the return home of their children, family visitation, Court preparation, linkage to community services, family support, and ASFA related documentation comprise the duties of the Concurrent Planning Caseworker.
As the name "Concurrent Planning" suggests, caseworkers in this unit are considering dual plans when working with families. If necessary, the goal of termination of parental rights and adoption is explored and considered when the grounds exist.
As always, the best interest of children is always considered in the casework model, as are the standards of timeliness, safety, well-being, and permanence.
The Placement Department is responsible for the recruitment, evaluation, training, approval, and support of Resource Family Foster/Adopt homes. Following Department of Public Welfare laws, regulations and guidelines, as well as agency policies and procedures, the placement department conducts comprehensive studies of resource family applicants to determine approval, as well as determine appropriate use.
The unit is further responsible for locating appropriate placement settings for children, as needed. Using our own resources, as well as other resources throughout the state, the unit locates the best placement to meet the child’s needs. An important component of the unit is the ongoing training and support provided to our resource families. Using a variety of techniques, the ongoing needs of the resource family for specialized training or support are assessed. Trainings are offered on an ongoing basis to better equip them in their role.
To meet the needs of all the children we serve, the following programs exist within the placement department: respite foster care, regular foster care, foster/adopt and therapeutic host homes. The placement unit works in conjunction with other department in the agency to tailor placements to best meet each child’s specific needs.
PRE-ADOPTION PROCESS UNIT
The Pre-Adoption Process Unit consists of two caseworkers who work in conjunction with the agency solicitor and Orphan's Court to prepare cases for Termination of Parental Rights. These duties are critical in achieving the permanency goal of adoption as mandated in the Adoption and Safe Families Act.
A child's goal frequently changes to adoption when it is determined that the parents haven't remedied the conditions which led to the child's placement within a reasonable period of time, usually twelve months. These caseworkers and the solicitor then meet with the ongoing caseworkers and their supervisors to determine case readiness prior to proceeding with Court action.
Termination petitions are prepared based on voluntary or involuntary grounds. Efforts are made to meet with the parents and provide counseling regarding .the signing of a Consent voluntarily agreeing to the adoption of their child. Focus is on what is in the child's best interest. If the parents aren't in agreement with the agency's goal of adoption for their child and are unwilling to voluntarily relinquish their rights the agency will then proceed in preparing a petition on involuntary grounds for termination. These grounds include six months of no contact or, in the case of a newborn with unmarried parents, four months of no contact. Additionally the grounds that the parents cannot or will not remedy the conditions which led to placement may also be indicated in the petition.
The caseworkers in this department are responsible for assisting the solicitor in preparing the Court petitions, arranging for personal service of the petitions upon the parents and publication of hearing notices when the parent's whereabouts are unknown. They consult with the ongoing workers and review the agency's Family Service Plans, Court Orders and reports from service providers in preparing the cases for Court. They subpoena and prepare witnesses to testify at the Termination of Parental Rights Hearings. Additionally, these specialized caseworkers also provide direct testimony at the Court hearing.
SCHOOL BASED SOCIAL WORK PROGRAM
The School Based Social Work Program is a multi-service program that will enhance agency/school/family relationships and thereby greatly strengthen the chances for at risk students to increase their educational, family and social functioning. The program provides direct services as well as linkages to community services. Although the program is a multi-faceted, the two main functions of this program are to provide primary prevention and assessments of all allegation of child abuse and neglect. This includes general protective service intakes, crisis intervention, child protective service screen-outs, truancy intervention, counseling for children and families, public education of child abuse and neglect an linkages to community services. This single case management program continues to provide intake assessments for the Mental Health System, when appropriate. The program is essential in the ongoing efforts of the agency to reduce the need for out-of-home placement, to reduce the risk of child lessen the incidence of juvenile delinquency and school truancy as well as to reduce the number of families and children requiring Children and Youth and Mental Health Services. During the summer months, in addition to doing GPS Intakes, a socialization program is offered to at risk children, to increase peer relationships and self-esteem.
The School-Based Social Work Program has successfully expanded to various school districts and schools since 1996. U bares, the SBSW program is providing services within the Daniel j. Flood, the Heights-Murray and the Kistler Elementary Schools. Within the Wyoming Valley West School District, the SBSW Program has provided services in State Street, Main Street, and Pringle Elementary School since 1999. Recently the program has expanded into the other four Elementary schools of Dana Street, Third Ave, Schuyler Ave and Chester Street School. SBSW services began in Hanover Area in 2001, with services in Lee Park, Hanover Green, Lynwood Elementary Schools and Memorial Middle School. In addition, services are provided in the Heights-Terrace Elementary School in Hazleton Area School District. In 2003, the SBSW Program expanded into the Pittston Area Kindergarten/Primary Center. The entire SBSW program is staffed by three Masters Level supervisors and 13 experienced caseworkers.
Support services personnel are a critical component of our agency. The realm of support services is diverse and includes communications, documentation, information processing, documents control, legal and personnel. With the increasing number of child abuse cases and the hiring of additional casework personnel, the clerical staff faces the challenge of providing essential and effective services.
Although each member of the support staff has specialized tasks for which they are responsible, Legal Secretaries, Clerks and Clerk Typists coordinate efforts to ensure typing, record keeping, tracking systems, data input, and document organization needs are met. They also operate the communication systems within the agency as well as in-person and public contact with providers and client/families.
In order to accomplish these tasks, the support staff work closely with caseworker, supervisory, and administrative units to meet the agency goals while adhering to various Department of Public Welfare regulatory requirements.
The Legal Department of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services is responsible for initiating Court proceedings pursuant to the Juvenile Act and the Child Protective Services Law. The Adoptions and Safe Families Act (ASFA), enacted in 1997, requires the Legal Department to provide representation at Permanency Review Hearings which are held every six months for each child in foster care placement. The Legal Department also provides representation to the Agency for Termination of Parental Rights Hearings as part of meeting the statutory obligations of ASFA.
The Legal Department provides training to all Children and Youth staff regarding the legal aspects of child abuse, expungement, dependency, shelter care, termination of parental rights and permanency reviews.
The Legal Department represents the Agency in all appeals from the Court of Common Pleas to the Appellate Courts of the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania which include preparation of all legal pleadings, preparation of legal briefs, preparation of all reproduced records and oral arguments to the Appellate Courts.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT
The Information Technology Department is an increasingly important facet of the Agency. It has a staff of four people that supports and maintains a Wide Area Network that includes approximately 200 users in three buildings, the Main Office, Hazleton Office and Visitation Center. It also provides network services to fourteen School Based workers located in the schools with more to be added.
The IT Department also maintains and is responsible for data input for two separate tracking systems the Agency Timekeeping System and the AFCARS System which tracks children in placement.
Training is provided by IT staff to all users regarding network access, Microsoft products, Timesheets, AFCARS and ACYS the Child Welfare System. The Department also tracks, collects and reports statistical data to Agency personnel, the State and Federal Government agencies.
The IT Department staff is dedicated to providing the highest quality services to Luzerne County and the staff of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services.
The Accounting Department of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services have the responsibility for the agency’s fiscal operations, insuring compliance with Federal, State, and Local Governments through detailed reporting.
Funding for all operations of the agency is determined through the Needs Based Budget with approval by the Commonwealth. This allows the agency to perform daily operations and fulfill the needs of the children in our community.