The Children, Youth and Families Division of Northampton County Department of Human Services, previously known as the Northampton County Children’s Bureau and the Children and Youth Division was established by the County on January 1, 1965, in response to State and Federal legislation providing that every county assure the availability and equitable provision of adequate public welfare services for all children, who need them regardless of race, religion, residence or economic status. The legal basis for the agency originated in 1962 with the amendment to the Public Assistance and Child welfare sections of the Social Security Act and the 1963 amendment to the Administrative Code of Pennsylvania.
Northampton County established a county administered program three years before the mandated date to do so. Pennsylvania is one of the few states which chose to provide such services at the county or local level rather than have them state administered. Prior to 1965, the County provided services to children and their families through the Juvenile Probation and Children’s Aide Society staffs, as well as through other private agencies. As increased funding was needed for children’s services and because such services were primarily placement oriented, the County recognized the need to provide protective services to children in their own homes. The County provided only two direct services during 1965, Intake and Protective Services, with a staff of seven persons. Gradually, the County took over responsibility from private agencies for more services. As the agency developed, more direct services were provided to increasing numbers of children, emphasizing protection and strengthening of the child’s own home. Additional legislation increased the scope of public child welfare services in Pennsylvania. In February of 1973, a new Juvenile Act transferred responsibility for truant youngsters from Juvenile Probation to child welfare agencies. The Adoption Opportunities Law, Act 339 of 1974, increased the number of children for whom permanent plans could be made. In 1975, Act 124 established procedures for reporting and investigating the abuse of children. Act 41 of 1977, removed the label of “delinquent” from status offenders and also diverted responsibility for this group of youth into the child welfare system. Act 148 of 1977 stressed keeping children in their own homes and placing children in the least restrictive environment in the child’s own community if removal from the home became necessary. The Adoption and Child Welfare Act (Public Law 96-272) was enacted in 1980. It achieved a very important step by defining, on a federal level, good child welfare practice and child welfare philosophy. There followed a period during which permanency planning was expanded and refined, called for practice that included the following considerations: 1. Intensive, in-home services to maintain children in their own homes and prevent placement. Family preservation programs have since spread across the country. (The term family preservation is reserved for intensive and short-term services in families whose children would have to be placed if such services were not available [Cole and Duva 1990; Whittaker et al. 1990]. 2. Reconceptualization of foster care as temporary service to parents. New kinds of services developed from this major shift. A different population of foster parents emerged when the need for caregivers began to be phrased as “Help a family get back together.” and “Do you want to parent a little child in your home?” 3. Careful assessment of every child who does come into care and of the child’s family. 4. A permanency plan with clearly defined time limits. 5. Contracting with the parents and others so that everyone is absolutely clear about plans and expectations. On November 19, 1997, “Adoption and Safe Families Act” (ASFA) was enacted. This law reaffirmed the purpose and nature of Child Welfare, as well as changed and/or added various mandates and requirements that guided practice. The intent of ASFA was to re-emphasize the priorities for children in the child welfare system based on safety, permanency, and well-being for all children. Within that intent, there was a renewed focus on the need for timeliness by child welfare agencies in achieving permanence for all children. There are six key points from Pennsylvania legislation. Each of these points outlines what child welfare agencies are incorporating into practice and policy in order to meet one or more of the four key goals of ASFA, (safety, permanency, timeliness and well-being for all children). The key points are: • Safety in Case Plan and Case Review Requirements • Aggravated Circumstances • Permanency Hearings • Mandated Timelines to file Petition for Termination of Parental Rights • Parental Alcohol and/or Drug use as a Basis for Dependency • Other Aspects of ASFA addressed through Provisions of the Juvenile Act On December 12, 1999, The Chafee Foster care Independence act was enacted. The purpose was to amend part E of title IV of the Social Security Act to provide States with more funding and greater flexibility in carrying out programs designed to help children make the transition from foster care to self-sufficiency. Major Provisions of the act:• Revised the program of grants to States and expanded opportunities for independent living programs providing education, training, employment services, and financial support for foster youth to prepare for living on their own• Allowed funds to be used to pay for room and board for former foster youth age 18 to 21 • Required: The Secretary to develop outcome measures to assess State performance in operating independent living programs National data collection on services, individuals served, and outcomes• Mandated that State plans for foster care and adoption assistance included certification that prospective parents would be adequately prepared to provide for the needs of the child and that such preparation would continue, as necessary, after placement of the child• Provided States with the option to extend Medicaid coverage to 18- to 21-year olds who have been emancipated from foster care• Emphasized permanence by requiring that efforts to find a permanent placement continue concurrently with independent living activities• Increased funding for adoption incentive payments On March 10, 2000 the Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act was enacted to reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect. Major Provisions of the act: Authorized the use of Federal law enforcement funds by States to improve the criminal justice system in order to provide timely, accurate, and complete criminal history record information to child welfare agencies, organizations, and programs that are engaged in the assessment of activities related to the protection of children, including protection against child sexual abuse, and placement of children in foster care. Allowed the use of Federal grants by law enforcement:· To enforce child abuse and neglect laws, including laws protecting against child sexual abuse· To promote programs designed to prevent child abuse and neglect· To establish or support cooperative programs between law enforcement and media organizations to collect, record, retain, and disseminate information useful in the identification and apprehension of suspected criminal offenders. Increased the amount of federally collected funds available to the States for implementation of State Children’s Justice Act reforms. On October 6, 2000 Inter-country Adoption Act was enacted to provide for implementation of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children. Major Provisions of the act established the U.S. Central Authority within the Department of State with general responsibility for U.S. implementation of the Convention and annual reports to Congress. Allowed the State Department to enter into agreements with one or more qualified accrediting entities to provide for the accreditation of agencies (nonprofit) and approval of persons (for-profit agencies and individuals) who seek to provide adoption services for adoptions covered by the Convention. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was originally enacted on 1-31-1974. The act was later amended by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform Act of 1978. The law was completely rewritten in the Child Abuse Prevention, Adoption and Family Services Act (10-25-1988). It was further amended by the Child Abuse Prevention Challenge Grants Reauthorization Act of 1989 (10/25/89) and the Drug Free School Amendments of 1989 (12/12/89). The Community-Based Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Grants program was originally authorized by sections 402 through 409 of the Continuing Appropriations Act (10/12/84). The Child Abuse Prevention Challenge Grants Reauthorization Act of 1989 transferred this program to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, as amended. A new title III, Certain Preventive Services Regarding Children of Homeless Families or Families at Risk of Homelessness, was added to the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and Treatment Act by the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act Amendments of 1990 (11/29/90). The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was amended and reauthorized by the Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Adoption, and Family Services Act of 1992 (5/28/92) and amended by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquence Prevention Act Amendments of 1992 (11/4/92). CAPTA was amended by the Older American Act Technical Amendments of 1993 (12/2/93) and the Human Services Amendments of 1994 (5/19/94). CAPTA was further amended by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Amendments of 1996 (10/3/96), which amended title I, replaced the Title II Community-Based Family Resource Centers program with a new Community-Based Family Resource and Support Program, and repealed Title III, Certain Preventive Services Regarding Children of Homeless Families or Families at Risk of Homelessness. CAPTA was further amended by the Keeping Children anFamilies Safe Act of 2003 (6/25/03), which amended title I and replaced Title II Community-Based Family Resource and Support Program with Community-Based Grants for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.CAPTA most recently was amended by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010 (12/20/10), which amended both titles I and II. On October 12, 1999 The Missing, Exploited and Runaway Children Protection Act was enacted. The Actamended the Missing Children's Assistance Act to direct the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to annually make a grant to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which shall be used to: (1) operate a national 24-hour toll-free telephone line by which individuals may report information regarding the location of any missing child, or other child age 13 or younger whose whereabouts are unknown to such child's legal custodian, and request information pertaining to procedures necessary to reunite such child with the child's legal custodian; (2) coordinate the operation of such telephone line with the operation of the national communications system referred to in the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act; (3) operate the official national resource center and information clearinghouse for missing and exploited children; (4) provide to State and local governments, public and private nonprofit agencies, and individuals information regarding free or low-cost legal, restaurant, lodging and transportation services that are available for the benefit of missing and exploited children and their families and the existence and nature of programs being carried out by Federal agencies to assist missing and exploited children and their families; (5) coordinate public and private programs that locate, recover, or reunite missing children with their families; (6) disseminate, on a national basis, information relating to innovative and model programs, services, and legislation that benefit missing and exploited children; (7) provide technical assistance and training to law enforcement agencies, State and local governments, elements of the criminal justice system, public and private nonprofit agencies, and individuals in the prevention, investigation, prosecution, and treatment of cases involving missing and exploited children; and (8) provide assistance to families and law enforcement agencies in locating and recovering missing and exploited children, both nationally and internationally. The law revised Act provisions regarding: (1) approval of applications to direct the Secretary to consider the geographical distribution in the State of the proposed services and which areas of the State have the greatest need for such services, and to give priority to eligible applicants who have demonstrated experience in providing services to runaway and homeless youth and who request grants of less than $200,000; (2) authority for the transitional living grant program to repeal definitions of "homeless youth" and "transitional living youth project"; (3) eligibility for assistance by stating that the annual report submitted by grant applicants to the Secretary must include statistical summaries describing the number and characteristics of the services provided to the homeless youth; (4) coordination by the Secretary of the activities of the Department of Health and Human Services with respect to matters relating to the health, education, employment, and housing of runaway and homeless youth; and (5) authority to make grants for research, demonstration, and service projects to repeal references to home-based and street based services from the research and demonstration projects. On 11-13-2001, The Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments were enacted. Title I: Promoting Safe and Stable Families - Subtitle A: Granted to States for Promoting Safe and Stable Families - Amended part B (Child and Family Services) of title IV of the Social Security Act (SSA) revised the stated purpose of the Child and Family Services program to enable States to develop and establish, or expand, and to operate coordinated programs of community-based family support services, family preservation services, time-limited family reunification services, and adoption promotion and support services to: (1) prevent child maltreatment among families at risk through the provision of supportive family services; (2) assure children's safety within the home and preserve intact families in which children have been maltreated, when the family's problems can be addressed effectively; (3) address the problems of families whose children have been placed in foster care so that reunification may occur in a safe and stable manner in accordance with the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997; and (4) support adoptive families by providing necessary support services. The Act revised grants to courts to implement improvements deemed necessary as a result of mandatory court assessments to: (1) provide the safety, well-being, and permanence of children in foster care; and (2) implement a corrective action plan, as necessary, resulting from reviews of child and family service programs. Subtitle B: Mentoring Children of Prisoners - Amends SSA title IV part B to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants for mentoring programs in FY 2002 through 2006 to qualified applicant local governments in areas that have significant numbers of children of prisoners. Authorizes appropriations: Title II: Foster Care and Independent Living - Amends part E (Foster Care and Adoption Assistance) of SSA title IV to: (1) make it a purpose of the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program to make available vouchers for education and training, including postsecondary training and education, to youth who have aged out of foster care; (2) provide for the reallocation of unused funds under such program. On June 25, 2003, The Keeping Children and Families Safe Act was Enacted. The Act reauthorized the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). CAPTA, which helped states improve practices in preventing and treating child abuse and neglect, included a basic state grant program for improving the child protective services (CPS) system infrastructure and a grant program focused on community-based prevention efforts. The Act also reauthorized the Adoption Opportunities Act, the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act. As of 4-12-16, this Act is in the process of being amended. Amendments to the Act would include placing limitations on the possession, sale, and other disposition of a firearm by persons convicted of misdemeanor sex offenses against children. The Act reauthorized the adoption incentive payments program under part E of title IV of the Social Security Act.. The main provisions of the Act included: Amended title IV-E revised requirements with respect to States eligible to receive adoption Incentive payments in order to provide payments for special needs adoptions. The Act authorized penalties against a State for failure to provide necessary data to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). On December 2, 2003 The Adoption Promotion Act of 2003 was enacted. The legislation enacted proposal to extend the Adoption Incentive Program. The bonus program, first created as part of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, has contributed to the substantial increase in adoptions in recent years. Despite recent progress, many children are still in need of adoptive families. Today, national data show that a child over the age of 9 is more likely to remain in foster care through his or her 18th birthday than to find an adoptive home. The Adoption Promotion Act of 2003 helped change that statistic by encouraging States to focus greater effort on finding adoptive families for children ages 9 and older. The Adoption Incentive Program included a targeted bonus for States successful in increasing the number of older children adopted from foster care, as well as to continue to recognize overall progress in increasing adoptions from foster care. On Nov 22, 2005, The Fair Access Foster Care Act was enacted. The Act Amended part E (Foster Care and Adoption Assistance) of title IV of the Social Security Act to provide for the making of foster care maintenance payments to private for-profit agencies. On July 3, 2006, The Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006 was enacted. This Act amended the Social Security Act to require each state to plan for foster care and adoption assistance provided that the state shall: (1) have in effect procedures for orderly and timely interstate placement of children; (2) complete home studies requested by another state within a specified period; (3) accept such studies received from another state; and (4) not impose any restrictions on contracting with a private agency to conduct such a study. Incentive payments were to be provided to states that had approved home study plans and that completed, and provided the Secretary a report on, such studies. State agencies were encouraged to cooperate with courts which had authority with respect to the placement of a child in foster care or for adoption for the purpose of locating a parent of the child. The Act amended the definition of "case review system" to: (1) increase the required frequency of state caseworker visits to a child who was placed in foster care outside the state in which the child's parents reside; (2) required a child's health and education record to be supplied to the child at no cost when he/she left foster care by reason of having attained the age of majority under state law; and (3) provide for a foster parent's right (currently, opportunity) to be heard in any proceeding (currently, review or hearing) respecting their foster child. The Act required state courts to ensure that foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, and relative caregivers of a child in foster care were notified of any such proceedings. On July 27, 2006, The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act was enacted. This law marked an important step forward in our Nation's efforts to protect those who cannot protect themselves. It strengthened Federal laws to protect our children from sexual and other violent crimes, prevent child pornography, and make the Internet safer for our sons and daughters. The Walsh Act organized sex offenders into three tiers according to the crime committed, and mandates. Tier 3 offenders (the most serious tier) were required to provide updates about their whereabouts every three months with lifetime registration requirements. Tier 2 offenders were required to provide updates about their whereabouts every six months with 25 years of registration, and Tier 1 offenders were required to provide updates about their whereabouts every year with 15 years of registration. Failure to register and update information was considered a felony under the law. States were required to publicly disclose information of Tier 2 and Tier 3 offenders, at minimum. The laws also contained civil commitment provisions for sexually dangerous people. The Act also created a national sex offender registry and instructed each state and territory to apply identical criteria for posting offender data on the internet (i.e., offender's name, address, date of birth, place of employment, photograph, etc.). The Act was named after Adam Walsh, an American boy who was abducted from a Florida shopping mall and later found murdered. The laws amended part B (Child and Family Services) of title IV of the Social Security Act (SSA) with respect to the promoting safe and stable families (PSSF) program. On Oct 2, 2006 The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) was enacted. The Act made changes to Medicaid, Medicare, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and other federal health care programs. On October 8, 2008 The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act was enacted. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (the FCA or Fostering Connections Act). FCA amended parts B and E of title IV of the Social Security Act to extend and expand adoption incentives through FY2013; create an option to provide kinship guardianship assistance payments; create an option to extend eligibility for title IV-E foster care, adoption assistance and kinship guardianship payments to age 21; de-link adoption assistance from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) eligibility over time; and, provide Federally-recognized Indian Tribes, Tribal organizations, or Tribal consortia (Tribes) with the option to operate a title IV-E program, among many other provisions. On September 30, 2011, The Child and Family Services Improvement Act was enacted.The Act extended funding authorization for Child Welfare Services Program and the Promoted theSafe and Stable Families Program for five years. On September 29, 2014, The Prevention of Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act were enacted. The laws required all states to implement a “reasonable and prudent parent standard” for decisions made by a resource parent or a designated official for a child care institution. All states must now produce best practices for assisting resource parents to apply the reasonable and prudent parent standard in a way that protects the child while also allowing them to experience normalcy, and also takes into consideration the concerns of the biological parents related to participation in activities (although these concerns won’t necessarily determine the participation of the child in activities). This provision also ensures that liability policies will ensure appropriate liability for caregivers who approve a child’s participation in an activity in accordance with the reasonable and prudent parent standard. Many states have already passed laws for the implementation of the new Federal law. On May 4, 2015 The Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard ACT 75 was enacted. This law was passed to create more normal life situations for a youth while in the foster care system. The resource parent or a designated official for was allowed to make parental decisions that maintain the health, safety, and best interest of the child and also decisions about the child’s participation in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural and social activities based on the child’s age and development.
1. Pennsylvania's Resource Family Care Act-73 of 2015 2. Pennsylvania's Children in Foster Care Act- 119 of 2010 was a law that was created in the same spirit as the normalcy movement by mandating agencies meet identified needs for youth in care. This will help to assure that children and the adults who care for them, whether in foster homes or congregate facilities, have a full understanding of the requirements and opportunities for their care. 3. Pennsylvania's Resource Parents RIGHT to Participation in Court --Act 76 of 2007 was a law that was created in order to mandate that resource parents be part of the court process. This statute mandates that you be included in the court process.4. Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) was a federal law that recognized that resource parents often have valuable information that will help the court make its decisions. Under ASFA, resource parents must be allowed to have input at periodic review and permanency hearings. the foster parents, relative caretakers, and pre-adoptive parents were given the right to be heard and be notified of hearings. Pennsylvania also passed Act 76 to reinforce the new Federal Statute giving foster parents the RIGHT to participate. Pennsylvania also passed house bill 1511 and the Governor signed it in to law as act 109 0f 2008. Act 109 of 2008 allows resource families to provide written documentation to be presented in court if they cannot attend or are more comfortable presenting that way. Note this does not replace their RIGHT to be present and heard in person. On January 28, 2016, The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act was enacted. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act would amend the federal criminal code to impose an additional penalty of $5,000 on any person or entity convicted of crimes relating to: (1) peonage, slavery, and trafficking in persons; (2) sexual abuse; (3) sexual exploitation and other abuse of children; (4) transportation for illegal sexual activity; or (5) human smuggling in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Establishes in the Treasury the Domestic Trafficking Victims' Fund into which such penalties shall be deposited and which shall be used in FY2015-FY2019 to award grants or enhance victims' programming under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, and the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990. Funds were to be provided for services for child pornography victims. The bill would amend the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to include human trafficking and the production of child pornography within the definition of child abuse for purposes of such Act. The bill would amend the federal criminal code to: (1) increase restitution for victims of human trafficking; (2) set forth provisions for combating aggravated human trafficking racketeering; (3) allow state and local prosecutors to obtain wiretap warrants in state courts for investigations into human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, and child pornography production; (4) increase penalties for offenses involving enticement into slavery, sex trafficking of children, child exploitation, and repeat sex offenders; and (5) revise the definition of the crime of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct to facilitate prosecutions of such crime. SERVICE PROVISIONS In an effort to reach these goals, the agency offers a comprehensive set of services to families in need. Some of these are provided directly (in house) by Children, Youth and Families Division caseworkers. Additional services are purchased from other community agencies. CYF works cooperatively with many other agencies to whom families are referred for services not within the agency’s scope or responsibility. The Children, Youth and Families Division is the single county agency designated to develop an Annual Services Plan and Budget Estimate for Children and Youth Social Services. This document describes social services which the County proposes/plans for children and youth. It also contains estimates of the cost of these services and is submitted each year to the Department of Public Welfare for review and approval. This plan includes services and costs funded by State Act 148 funds, for both dependent children and youth served by the Children, Youth and Families and Juvenile Probation Office. The following State mandated services are provided to dependent children and their families by, or through the Children, Youth and Families Division in Northampton County. Intake Related Services: 1. Information and Referral Services2. Service Planning Post Intake Services 1. Services to Children In Their Own Homes: a. Counseling/Intervention Services – using the family’s own strengths to help them recognize the current conditions harmful to their children. This shall include individual counseling, parent/child counseling, family and group therapy and self-help groups. b. Homemaker Services – for parents who need help in basic homemaking skills c. Life Skills Education Services d. Protective Services – Child Abuse e. Protective Services – General 2. Day Services to Children at Home or in Placement: a. Day Care Services – offered to children whose parents are physically or emotionally incapable of caring for them on a full time basis. b. Day Treatment Services – incorporating both an educational and therapeutic curriculum. 3. Services to Children Removed from Parental Custody: a. Placement Services b. Kinship Care Services c. Subsidized Permanent Legal Custodianship d. Adoption Services Agency services are provided through the following specialized units: 1. Birth Search and Reunification Services / Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children
2. Child Abuse Protective Services Intake
4. Foster Care
6 Family Group Decision Making
7. General Protective Services Intake
8 General Protective Ongoing Services
9. GPS/CPS Ongoing Services
10. Health Choices
12. Permanency Planning
13 Social Services Aides
14. Specialized Adolescent Services
15. Quality AssuranceThe Agency’s specialized unit structure facilitates service delivery to a large client population. The number of workers in each unit varies according to the size of the client population served. Each unit has a full-time supervisor. The Supervisors of the specialized units are under the supervision of three Program Directors, who in turn are supervised by the Administrator. The Administrator also supervises the agency’s, Fiscal Officer, Program Specialists and the Juvenile Court Liaison, as these positions carry responsibilities which impact on all of the specialized services offered by the agency. The Assistant Director supervisors the agency’s Staff Development Coordinator, responsible for the orientation and training of all newly hired casework staff and the oversight of certification and training needs of the entire professional staff.