Innovation and Reform

Innovation and Reform | April 17, 2017

Developing Predictive Risk Models to Support Child Maltreatment Hotline Screening Decisions

Tags: , , ,

In August 2016, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) implemented the Allegheny Family Screening Tool (AFST), a predictive risk model designed to improve call screening decision-making in the county’s child welfare system.  The AFST is the result of a two-year process of exploration, research, ethical analysis and training.   The AFST calculates a score ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | January 6, 2017

Joint Position Statement on Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders in Allegheny County

Tags: , ,

Allegheny County, like much of Western Pennsylvania, is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic and it is vitally important that County residents have access to the best and most effective treatment to support their recovery from opioid use disorders. Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, combines medication and counseling/behavioral therapy and, when clinically appropriate, is ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | December 15, 2016

The Director’s Action Line at Twenty Years: Trends, Client Satisfaction and Recommendations

Tags: ,

Receiving more than 3,000 calls annually, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) Director’s Action Line (DAL) is an effective mechanism through which clients and other community members can resolve issues and get information about DHS services. It is also an important feedback tool for DHS, providing information about client experiences and perceptions of ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | January 31, 2016

Of and For the Community: How Community Engagement and Communication Helped to Shape the Allegheny County Department of Human Services

Tags: ,

Creating an integrated Department of Human Services in 1997 was a herculean task. It involved combining four formerly-separate departments, geographically dispersed and structured in very different ways. Administratively, technologically, fiscally and culturally, each had functioned autonomously for decades.  A strategic set of engagement and communication efforts were key to the community buy-in and support that ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | January 1, 2016

Child Welfare Leadership Fellows: Using Data to Improve the Lives of Children and Families

Tags: , ,

Twenty-seven child welfare professionals participated in the first year of the Leadership Fellows program, learning how to use data to 1) identify issues that negatively impact children and families in the child welfare system and 2) make recommendations to address those issues. The fellows focused on teenage girls in out-of-home placement and recommended strategies to ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | August 1, 2015

Report Series: Improving Educational and Well-Being Outcomes: School-DHS Data Sharing in Allegheny County

Tags: , , ,

Integrating school data with the Department of Human Services Data Warehouse allows unprecedented collaboration between human services and school social workers. This group of reports and data briefs relate to data-sharing agreements between DHS and local school districts. They describe the ways in which shared information has informed strategies designed to improve school outcomes for ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | October 1, 2014

Introducing Performance-Based Contracting: A Comparison of Implementation Models

Linking provider payments to performance measures is gaining popularity as a way to improve outcomes, efficiency and innovations.  Three performance-based contracting models have been implemented in Allegheny County, targeting: 1) the Senior Center network; 2) child welfare providers; and 3) DHS-funded providers of the Allegheny County Jail Collaborative.  Each focuses on service-related outcomes and offers ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | August 1, 2014

Inua Ubuntu: An Assessment of Implementation, Program Process and Child Welfare Involvement

Tags: ,

Inua Ubuntu, designed to provide culturally-based intervention with a goal of reducing the rate of out-of-home placement for African American males, was implemented by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services in 2010.  The program is based on an African-centric concept of family and community, and is driven by the theory that services are most ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | July 31, 2014

Common Assessment Tools: Implementation and Implications for Service Integration

Tags:

An initial assessment is often a client’s first service experience, and, as such, it plays a major role in the perception, comfort and outcomes of the service. Simultaneously, the assessment can set the tone for the eventual outcomes of the  This report describes the process of adapting and/or developing common assessments for use in Allegheny ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | February 12, 2014

2013 Allegheny County DHS Local Government Case Competition: Building a Human Services Workforce for the 21st Century

Tags: , ,

The 7th annual Local Government Case Competition engaged graduate students in addressing the challenges of staffing a human services system that is increasingly data driven, integrated and community based. Click to read the full report.  Local Government Case Competition: Allegheny County (PA) Department of Human Services 2013 from Allegheny County DHS on Vimeo....

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | November 21, 2013

Managing with Less: Implementation of the Allegheny County Human Services Block Grant

Tags: ,

Fiscal Year 2012/2013 saw the implementation of the Human Services Block Grant in Allegheny County, which combined a 10 percent decrease in funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (now the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services) with greater flexibility in how those funds could be spent. The local planning process included community involvement and ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | August 1, 2013

Brief Wraparound Residential Model and In-Community Stabilization Process: Description, Implementation and Future Plans

Tags:

The Brief Wraparound Residential model emphasizes working with youth on what they need to be successful following their stay in residential care; that is, at home, in school and in the community. It involves immediate engagement with the youth and family and is designed to support reunification and successful re-entry into the home and community. ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | April 21, 2013

2012 Allegheny County DHS Local Government Case Competition: Addressing Suburban Poverty and Those Affected by It

Tags: , , , ,

The sixth annual Local Government Case Competition focused on the issue of suburban poverty. This report summarizes the winning presentations as well as the key ideas generated during the competition. Click to read the full report.  ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | January 31, 2013

Natural Supports: A Scan of Current Use and Future Opportunities

Tags:

Natural supports are those family members, friends and community members who enhance our lives and support us in achieving our goals.  The use of natural supports is becoming more common in association with human services, and DHS actively promotes the identification of natural supports and their involvement with individuals and families involved in a variety ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | January 21, 2013

Your Culture is Valued Here: Lessons from the DHS Immigrants and Internationals Advisory Council

Tags:

In 2007, DHS established an Immigrant and International Advisory Council, seeking to ensure that its services were culturally competent and accessible. Since that time, the Council is credited by many with making the region more immigrant-friendly. Beginning with two specific goals – cultural competence training and improving access to translation and interpretation services – the ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | January 1, 2013

From Almshouses to Excellence: A History of Child Welfare in Allegheny County

Tags: ,

To commemorate 50 years during which Allegheny County government has been responsible for providing public child welfare services, DHS commissioned this historical overview of child welfare in the county. Click here to view the full report.  Related: The Next Page: Bold ideas behind Pittsburgh’s first child-welfare system – Meet the heroines Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 4, ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | November 23, 2012

Allegheny County Department of Human Services Quality Improvement Activities: 2009-2011

Tags:

Since 2008, when a report on Quality Improvement activities across DHS was published, an enhanced quality improvement process has been in place for the delivery of direct services at DHS. The primary focus on these efforts have been in child welfare; activities range from a Quality Service Review process to Child Fatality and Near-Fatality reviews. ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | July 31, 2012

2011 Allegheny County DHS Local Government Case Competition: Reducing Stigma among Individuals with Serious Mental Illness

Tags: , ,

Participants in the fifth annual Local Government Case Competition were asked to develop a plan to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.  Teams of graduate students approached the challenge from a variety of perspectives; the winning team targeted working-age adults with mental illness through a multifaceted plan of increased self-sufficiency and public awareness. In ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | May 1, 2012

Showing the Way Out: Youth Support Partners Use their Personal Experiences to Support Other Youth

Tags: , ,

In 2008, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services hired four Youth Support Partners (YSP), young adults with lived experiences in human services, to serve as positive role models and peer supports for young people involved in the system. From that beginning, the Youth Support Partners program has expanded to include a manager, four supervisors ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | January 1, 2012

System of Care Initiative: Building Creative Partnerships – Involving Families in Program Evaluation

Tags:

Between 1993 and 2011, Allegheny County Department of Human Services received three SAMHSA grants to implement systems of care designed to support youth with serious emotional disturbances who were involved in multiple child-serving systems. Evaluation was a critical piece of these grants, which prioritized family empowerment and inclusion.  In keeping with this priority, and its ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | January 1, 2012

Evaluation of Allegheny County’s Crisis Intervention Team Training Program

Tags: , , ,

This report summarizes the development, implementation and evaluation of a crisis intervention training program designed to teach police officers how to identify and intervene appropriately and safely with individuals with mental illness. Click here to view the full report....

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | September 1, 2011

How Case Reviews Transformed Allegheny County’s Criminal Justice System

Tags:

This report describes Allegheny County’s criminal justice case review process, including factors that have contributed to its success and proposed solutions to ongoing issues. Click here to view the full report....

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | May 31, 2011

Transforming Lives Through Systems Integration: The “Improving Outcomes for Children and Families” Initiative

Tags:

DHS’s Improving Outcomes for Child and Families initiative utilized a service integration focus to serve families with multiple needs.  It was based on the belief that making systems work together as a team would improve services and reduce the confusion that families face when they need to interact with staff from a variety of child-serving ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | February 2, 2011

Challenge and Change 1997-2010: Transforming an administrative infrastructure to support program integration

Tags:

This report details the transformational administrative and operational changes within DHS from its creation in 1997 through 2010. Click to read the full report....

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | February 1, 2011

2010 Local Government Case Competition: Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Pathways to the Promise

Tags: , ,

Fifty-five graduate students from local universities participated in the 4th Local Government Case Competition. The focus of this year’s competition was on narrowing the academic achievement gap for students involved in human services and raising the bar for all Pittsburgh Public School students.  Specifically, participants were asked to consider how to make more students “Promise ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | May 31, 2010

Quality Improvement Assessment

Tags:

This report describes the more than 100 quality improvement activities and initiatives taking place throughout DHS, using the Council on Accreditation’s (COA) Performance and Quality Improvement standards to frame the discussion of how DHS currently manages quality improvement. It discusses best practice approaches and provides benchmarking information about what organizations similar to DHS are doing, ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | April 1, 2010

2009 Allegheny County DHS Local Government Case Competition: Building the Homewood Children’s Village

Tags: , ,

The 3rd annual Case Competition was designed to engage local graduate students in developing a five-year strategic plan for the Homewood Children’s Village. Student teams approached the challenge from a variety of perspectives, but the team that ultimately won the competition impressed the judges with their knowledge of Homewood’s existing assets and their ability to ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | May 31, 2008

2008 DHS Local Government Case Competition: Greening DHS

Tags: ,

The second annual Local Government Case Competition sought ideas from students on how to embed environmental sustainability in DHS policies and operations. Forty-six graduate students from local universities were divided into 12 teams and each team presented its ideas to a panel of judges. These presentations, as well as an overview of the Competition and ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | May 31, 2008

Data Warehousing, Flow Models and Public Policy

Tags: ,

This paper, presented at the 28th Annual APPAM Research Conference in November 2006, describes the context and need for integrated data in human services, data warehousing technology and its unique challenges in the public sector, innovative data warehouse applications that have arisen in part from joint projects with universities, and future opportunities for data warehousing. ...

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | May 31, 2007

2007 DHS Local Government Case Competition: The Future of DHS

Tags: ,

This report describes DHS’s inaugural Local Government Case Competition, in which local graduate students were asked to consider how DHS will look in the next 10 years. Click to read the full report....

Downloads:  

Innovation and Reform | January 31, 1998

Redesigning Human Service Delivery in Allegheny County

Tags:

With the creation of the Department of Human Services in 2007, Director Marc Cherna began the process of integrating the existing Departments of Aging, Federal Programs, Children and Youth Services and Mental Health/Mental Retardation/Drug & Alcohol/Homeless & Hunger Programs. The restructuring, which was the result of a lengthy internal planning process and public discussion, is ...

Downloads: