Child Welfare

Child Welfare

Every child has the right to grow up in a home where he or she feels safe and part of a loving and nurturing family. Unfortunately, there were more than 210,000 reports of children being abused and neglected in the state of Pennsylvania in 2017, with referral numbers continuing to be the highest recorded to date. In addition to the increase in reporting, we also have continued to see increases in the number of children being served in the foster care system, with over 25,000 in placement in 2018. 

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is working to implement effective public policy changes that better protect children from abuse and neglect, ensure that when child placement is necessary, it is in a family-based setting, improve the well-being of children in out-of-home care and help ensure a forever family for every child.

Child Welfare Policy Goals

  • Advance implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), to ensure desired child and family outcomes.
  • Promote the identification and utilization of kin resources for all children in foster care to increase their chances of becoming part of a permanent family.
  • Strengthen the response to reports of child abuse and neglect and the services and supports children and families receive to reduce instances of child maltreatment.
  • Develop protections for transitional aged youth to identify strategies for building connections with supportive adults, ensuring access to extended foster care, inclusion in case planning, and promoting access to high-quality services to improve older youth outcomes.
  • Ensure that all children in foster care receive services and supports that increase their well-being while in placement, including the improvement of education outcomes

Child Welfare Publications

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Child Welfare Fast Facts:

  • Since the change in mandated reporting laws, Pennsylvania continues to see marked numbers in reports of child abuse and neglect, with the highest numbers recorded to date.
  • In 2018, more than 190,000 children and their families were identified as receiving in-home services aimed to preserving the family and/or preventing out-of-home placement.
  • While the overall population of children served in foster care has continued to rise, we have seen improvements in multiple areas, including:
    • – Increases in children being served in a family-based setting, most importantly in a kinship care home
    • – Upon first-time entry into placement, children are more likely to be placed in a family-based setting
    • – The primary goal for children is to return home to a parent, or enter into adoption or guardianship
    • – The rates of children exiting to non-permanent arrangements is the lowest it has been in five years
    • – The rate of failed reunification is the lowest recorded to date
  • Reunification and adoption remain the two most common reasons for children exiting foster care; however, too often the permanency goal of another planned permanent living arrangement (APPLA) results in older youth leaving foster care without a permanent family to rely on – more than 76 percent of the time
  • Older youth transitioning from foster care have poorer outcomes compared to their general population of peers.  In 2018, 33% of the 8,639 children in foster care were transition aged youth.  For this cohort, the following outcomes have been noted:
    • – 47% of this population were placed in a group home or an institution
    • – 49% exited care without permanency