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After a series of incidents in which people have been harmed while in state or county human services care, Governor Tom Wolf says the system isn’t working.

Jason Eppink / flickr

Pennsylvania plans to restore general assistance cash payments this fall for poor or disabled Pennsylvanians following a state Supreme Court decision.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

As more states begin creating work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid recipients, calls to do the same in Pennsylvania are building.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Monday is state Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller's first day leading the commonwealth's sprawling Department of Human Services.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Wolf administration is gearing up to launch one of the most ambitious parts of its proposed 2017-18 budget—consolidating four of the state’s biggest health agencies.

But few concrete details have been released about merging the departments of Human Services, Drugs and Alcohol, Health, and Aging. And lawmakers are expressing concerns that the plan won’t be fully ready by budget day in three months.

Navigating New State Background Check Requirements

Aug 11, 2015
Alan Levine / flickr

Following the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal, members of the Pennsylvania legislature introduced a long list of bills intended to keep children safer, forced professionals to better report suspected abuse and make it easier for victims to get help.  While most of those bills never moved out of committee, many of them became laws.  Cathy Utz, deputy secretary for the Office of Children, Youth and Families in the Department of Human Services keeps track of those laws and shares her knowledge on the program.

The Americans with Disabilities Act marks its 25th anniversary this month, and a Pennsylvania lawmaker says a bill of rights for those with disabilities is “long overdue.”

Legislation filed by State Rep. Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery, Philadelphia) would institute a bill of rights, promising people with disabilities the necessary support to live as independently and actively within their communities as possible, including making their own decisions on living arrangements and other support services.

Home Care Workers Vote in Favor of Representation

Apr 24, 2015

An executive order from Gov. Tom Wolf to create a representative organization for Pennsylvania’s home care workers lost a key provision Thursday when a Commonwealth Court judge barred the organization from making any written policy agreements with the governor’s office.

The executive order, which Wolf signed Feb. 27, gave home care workers the ability to vote for an organization to represent them in monthly talks with an advisory group in the governor’s office. The order also allowed the representative organization to make formal written agreements with the advisory group, but that portion of the order was blocked by Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini’s injunction.

The Department of Human Services has established an electronic case management system that will keep track of the children served by the state.

Cathy Utz, the Deputy Secretary for Children, Youth and Families for the Department of Human Services, said there was previously no statewide database.

She said there was a gap in the system and caseworkers had to rely on a family or child to self-report if they had received services in another county.

Most other states have a similar system in place.

Talking to your baby could be one of the best things a parent can do developmentally, and to help get that idea across Allegheny County the Department of Human Services has launched what it is calling the “Use Your Words” campaign.

The campaign encourages parents to talk to their infant about things that they are doing. For instance “I am cutting up orange carrots” in an expressive manner is the best way to help children develop.

Allegheny County

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner has announced that a recent audit revealed that complex procedures and internal deficiencies in the County's Department of Human Services (DHS) could prevent people who are seeking mental health services from getting the help they need.

Wagner and District Attorney Stephen Zappala have jointly investigated DHS’ contracted work with Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic’s Re:Solve Crisis Network. Wagner pointed out the decline in funding for mental health programs nationally and statewide. She thinks Allegheny County needs to look at ways to best provide services with limited funding in mind.

Jamie Harris, Director of Advocacy Services at Mental Health America Allegheny County says lack of access to mental health treatment is indeed influenced by cuts in funding, but also the stigmatization of those with a mental illness. 

Prom is a rite of passage that many young Americans to go through, so Project Prom in Allegheny County is working to make every young adult well dressed and well behaved for the night.

The County Department of Human Services (DHS) is putting on its 11th annual Project Prom, where eligible girls can receive free prom dresses from various local boutiques and individuals who donate dresses. The dress giveaway starts March 15, and on March 29, the shop will be open for public sale, where girls can purchase dresses for no more than $25.