Children, Youth and Families

Children, Youth and Families | October 2, 2017

Racial Disproportionality in Allegheny County’s Child Welfare System

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A total of 20,190 children were referred to the child welfare system in Allegheny County due to abuse or neglect in 2015. The data in this brief analyzes the number and rate of children of different races at four critical stages within the child welfare system: referral, investigation, accept for service and home removal. While ...

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Children, Youth and Families | July 20, 2017

Frequently-Asked Questions About the Allegheny Family Screening Tool

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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. Click here to view FAQs about the screening tool. Click here to read more about the tool in the full report, ...

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Children, Youth and Families | April 17, 2017

Developing Predictive Risk Models to Support Child Maltreatment Hotline Screening Decisions

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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 ...

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Children, Youth and Families | March 24, 2017

Data Brief: Understanding the Foster Parent Training Experience

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Eleven Allegheny County foster care provider agencies formed a training cooperative in order to improve the number and quality of training opportunities for foster parents. After increasing the number and variety of trainings, the cooperative requested feedback to inform quality and access improvements.  DHS staff conducted telephone surveys with foster parents and identified a number ...

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Children, Youth and Families | February 21, 2017

Conferencing and Teaming in Allegheny County: Participant Experience Update

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Conferencing and Teaming is the Allegheny County Department of Human Services’ practice model designed to engage child welfare participants, and their natural supports, in a process of family strengthening through client-driven goal setting and achievement.  An analysis of participant experiences with Conferencing and Teaming was conducted in order to assess their satisfaction with the process ...

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Children, Youth and Families | November 9, 2016

An Evaluation of the Family Support Center Network

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An evaluation of 25 Allegheny County Family Support Centers looked at the operation and impact of individual Centers as well as the network as a whole, in five specific areas: family empowerment; connection to social services, early child development and school readiness; maternal and child health; and child abuse and neglect. This report describes the ...

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Children, Youth and Families | June 16, 2016

Allegheny County Child Fatality and Near Fatality Reviews

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This series of reports describes findings and outcomes from Child Fatality/Near-Fatality reviews. Information about the incidents, including demographics and perpetrators’ social and human service involvement, is available in these reports as well as case practice and system reforms enacted to reduce the likelihood of future child abuse-related incidents. 2009-2010 2011 2012 2013 2014-2015...

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Children, Youth and Families | January 1, 2016

Conferencing and Teaming – Participants’ Perspectives and Satisfaction

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More than 200 families were interviewed about their experience with Conferencing and Teaming meetings.  Although most responded positively to the meeting process, only about two-thirds reported that the meeting resulted in meaningful outcomes for their family. Increasing family involvement in identifying realistic outcomes may improve the experience and relevance of Conferencing and Teaming meetings. Click ...

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Children, Youth and Families | January 1, 2016

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

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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 ...

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Children, Youth and Families | December 1, 2015

Families For Teens: Foster Care Recruitment and Support in Allegheny County

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When removing a child from home is necessary, a stable foster home is the preferred placement option; unfortunately, adolescents and teenagers are much less likely to find such a home and often end up in group homes or other congregate settings.  The Families for Teens initiative, funded by the Administration for Children and Families of ...

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Children, Youth and Families | November 1, 2015

The Impact of Child Welfare System Involvement on School Stability – An Evaluation of Pittsburgh Public School Students

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Child welfare out-of-home placements are stressful events, compounded by the fact they may result in a youth changing schools. Research shows mid-year school changes to be disruptive both academically and socially. This report examines child welfare imposed mobility, identifying system challenges as well as the positive factors that have led to an overall decrease in ...

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Children, Youth and Families | June 1, 2015

Allegheny County Child Welfare Home Removal Costs, 2012 Cohort

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The cost of out-of-home placements vary greatly, depending upon length, type of placement and level of care required.  Type of placement was a significant factor in cost variation; group home placements, at approximately four times the cost of kinship care, were the most expensive.  Cost increased with the child’s age at entry, although this may ...

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Children, Youth and Families | April 1, 2015

Parents Raising Safe Kids: An Assessment of the Impact of the ACT Against Violence Program Curriculum

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The Parents Raising Safe Kids curriculum was developed by the American Psychological Association and implemented nationally in an effort to teach positive parenting skills to parents and caregivers. Offered locally at 17 program sites throughout the County, the curriculum was found to improve parenting skills; media literacy; knowledge of child development; and parental attitude and ...

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Children, Youth and Families | 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 ...

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Children, Youth and Families | August 1, 2014

Permanency Roundtables: Challenging Barriers to Permanency for Children in Out-of-Home Care

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Permanency Roundtables are an important component of Allegheny County’s strategy to improve permanency outcomes for children in child welfare out-of-home placements. Roundtables engage practitioners, caseworkers, providers and permanency experts in an intense two-hour brainstorming session in which barriers to permanency are identified along with strategies to address those barriers. The creativity of the collaborative process ...

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Children, Youth and Families | August 1, 2014

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

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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 ...

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Children, Youth and Families | July 31, 2014

Common Assessment Tools: Implementation and Implications for Service Integration

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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 ...

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Children, Youth and Families | May 1, 2014

I’ll Never Get Used to It: Young People Living on the Street

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Designed to inform local leaders, this report places the issue of homeless youth within a national context and provides information about local need, services and strategies to prevent and address homelessness among Allegheny County’s young adults. Click here to read the full report....

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Children, Youth and Families | October 1, 2013

Drug-Exposed Newborns

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Although prenatal drug/alcohol exposure cases accounted for less than two percent of child welfare referrals in Allegheny County, this exposure can have significant health and developmental consequences. More than one in four newborns were re-referred to child welfare at least once before the end of 2011; early intervention is critical to avoid a repeat referral ...

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Children, Youth and Families | October 1, 2013

Data Brief: Fathers in Child Welfare Cases

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An analysis was conducted on fathers’ involvement in child welfare cases from 2010 through 2012. Biological fathers were identified in 81 percent of cases (as compared to 94 percent of mothers). The data provided in this brief address the factors that may influence this involvement; it also includes a discussion of practice measures being implemented ...

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Children, Youth and Families | October 1, 2013

Psychotropic Medication Use by Allegheny County Youth in Out-of-Home-Placement

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Focus groups with youth and caregivers identified a number of concerns about the way in which psychotropic medications were prescribed to youth in a child welfare out-of-home placement. A quantitative analysis by Community Care Behavioral Health indicated that youth in child welfare placement and on medical assistance were about two and a half times more ...

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Children, Youth and Families | August 1, 2013

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

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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. ...

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Children, Youth and Families | August 1, 2013

Improving Educational Outcomes for Child Welfare-Involved Youth: Allegheny County’s Implementation of the Child Welfare Education Screen

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In response to federal, state and local priorities, DHS implemented the Pennsylvania General and Special Education/Disability Accommodation Screen (Education Screen) in partnership with provider agencies and local school districts.  The Education Screen was designed to increase collaborative efforts between DHS and school districts, with a focus on improved educational outcomes for students. Implementation included appointment ...

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Children, Youth and Families | July 1, 2013

Assessing Allegheny County’s System of Care Initiative

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Allegheny County’s System of Care Initiative consisted of three federal grants designed to improve the functioning of system-involved children and youth with serious emotional disturbances, and their families.  The three initiatives, which also sought to improve system integration and family empowerment, ran from 1998 through 2011.  The evaluation described in this report looked at placement ...

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Children, Youth and Families | January 1, 2013

Family Group Decision Making: A Quantitative Analysis of the Impact on Out-of-Home Placement

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Family Group Decision Making (FGDM), an intervention designed in New Zealand to improve safety and permanency for maltreated children, was implemented in Allegheny County in 1999.  From 2001 through 2010, 2,908 children received FGDM. An evaluation of its effectiveness was conducted by Chapin Hall.  This report describes the evaluation and its findings. Click here to ...

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Children, Youth and Families | January 1, 2013

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

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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, ...

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Children, Youth and Families | September 1, 2012

Aging Up, Not Out: Moving Youth from Foster Care to Employability

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When youth in child welfare reach their 18th or 21st birthday, they are no longer eligible for child welfare services.  Unfortunately, they are also too often unprepared emotionally, financially or academically for college, the workforce, and independent living.  In recognition of this issue, and the needs of these youth, DHS created the Independent Living Unit ...

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Children, Youth and Families | September 1, 2012

Aging Out of the Child Welfare System in Allegheny County: Descriptive Analysis, Challenges and Implications

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Eighty percent of youth in child welfare foster care leave the child welfare system within six months of turning 18.  Unfortunately, many are not ready for the challenges of adulthood.  Youth who age out of the child welfare system are likely to have lower levels of education and employment and higher levels of public assistance, ...

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Children, Youth and Families | June 1, 2012

HOPE: Helping Others Through the Power of Education: A Report on a Series of Events Held in the Spring of 2011

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Three events were held throughout May and June of 2011, designed to bring together youth and families from a number of DHS children and youth-serving systems. A description and evaluation of each event are included in this report. Click here to view the full report. ...

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Children, Youth and Families | May 1, 2012

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

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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 ...

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Children, Youth and Families | January 1, 2012

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

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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 ...

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Children, Youth and Families | November 1, 2011

Collaborative Approach to Juvenile Justice Reform: An Analysis of Juvenile Justice Related Services in Allegheny County

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This report provides an overview of Allegheny County’s Juvenile Justice Related Services, created to ensure that adolescents in the juvenile justice system who are struggling with behavioral health issues receive coordinated services tailored to their individual needs. Click to read the full report.  Executive Summary of Juvenile Justice Related Services in Allegheny County Key Characteristics ...

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Children, Youth and Families | September 1, 2011

A Picture of Success: DHS-Funded Students Respond Enthusiastically to Arts Education Opportunity

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With funding from Casey Family Programs, 30 students from grades seven through 12, involved with DHS’s child serving systems, attended studio classes at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh. Participating in classes in ceramics, design, digital arts or photography, the students not only learned skills, but also built confidence and self-discipline. Click here to view the ...

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Children, Youth and Families | August 1, 2011

Prevention Programs Across the Department of Human Services

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DHS is committed to meeting the human services needs of county residents, particularly the county’s most vulnerable populations, through an extensive range of prevention, early intervention, crises management and after–care services. While system involvement is sometimes inevitable, necessary and highly beneficial to consumers, DHS believes that preventing the need for such system interventions can ultimately ...

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Children, Youth and Families | May 31, 2011

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

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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 ...

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Children, Youth and Families | January 1, 2011

Child Welfare Placement Dynamics: Long-Term Trends in Allegheny County’s Child Welfare System

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The number of youth in out-of-home placement on the first of the year declined from 3,088 in 1996 to 1,765 in 2010, a total decrease of 43 percent. This report offers a view of the child welfare system in Allegheny County over this period, including demographics of children served, their system trajectory, and their involvement ...

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Children, Youth and Families | January 1, 2011

Residential Enhancement Service Planning Opportunities for New Directions Program (RESPOND): A Program Evaluation

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RESPOND is an intensive treatment program designed to serve youth whose multiple needs (intellectual disability and significant behavioral challenges) are not able to be met through DHS’s current array of services. RESPOND operates on a collaborative model that integrates effective clinical treatment with principles of psychiatric rehabilitation, applied behavior analysis and community support programs. This ...

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Children, Youth and Families | January 1, 2011

Starting Early Together – Assessing a System of Care Initiative

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Starting Early Together, a program of Allegheny County’s System of Care Initiative, was designed to serve children under six with serious emotional disturbances, and their families, in four high-need Allegheny County communities. The program combined service coordination with formal family supports, and was intended to transform the mental health system for children and families and ...

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Children, Youth and Families | April 1, 2010

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

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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 ...

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Children, Youth and Families | January 1, 2010

An Examination of Training for Family Support Center Staff

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Family Support Center staff are required to meet hourly training goals each year, in addition to maintaining certifications for specific positions.  This training is primarily provided by the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development. Focus groups were held to collect feedback about the training and to identify ways in which training could better support ...

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Children, Youth and Families | January 1, 2010

Homewood: A Community Profile

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This profile of the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Homewood (and subsequent Addendum) was compiled by DHS to assess demographic changes and examine quality of life issues-poverty, education, health care-in Homewood and in the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County to accurately assess the community’s assets and needs. Click here to view the full report. Click here ...

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Children, Youth and Families | January 1, 2010

The Role of Race in Child Welfare System Involvement in Allegheny County

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This study documents the service paths of African American and white children following referral to Allegheny County child welfare services, to identify and examine the factors related to service disparities. Click here to view the full report....

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Children, Youth and Families | March 1, 2008

Children of Incarcerated Parents

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This report examines the human service experiences and potential needs of children of incarcerated parents. Click to read the full report. ...

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