DPW upgrades Washington County CYS license

January 29, 2013
The Courthouse Square office building.

Officials from the state Department of Public Welfare have restored a full license to the Washington County Children and Youth Services agency.

DPW notified the county Monday that the CYS provisional license was upgraded as of Jan. 15, a status that will remain in effect for one year.

CYS had a full license from 1999 to 2012, but the agency lost that status in October because DPW “found numerous areas of noncompliance.”

Anne Bale, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Welfare in Harrisburg, wrote in response to an email inquiry that DPW conducted licensing inspections Dec. 12 and 13.

“There were citations in the most recent inspection, but the agency has shown significant progress since the last inspection,” Bale wrote. “The county submitted a plan of correction, which has been accepted. With this plan of correction and the plan that was implemented by the new administrator when she was hired, the department’s recommendation was for full licensure.”

Kimberly Rogers replaced Lori Harbert as CYS administrator last fall. Harbert resigned in July from her $66,306 job in July, entering into a $26,750 settlement agreement with the county.

Last year, Washington County Judge John DiSalle, who was then hearing child dependency cases, told the county commissioners he had “grave concern” about the administration of CYS.

In its licensing review last year, the welfare department focused on the agency’s use of questionable voluntary placement agreements.

DPW cited a Superior Court case in which a parent was coerced into signing a “voluntary” agreement under threat of court proceedings and an emergency order if the agreement was not signed.

The state oversight agency also said it found 60 general protective service cases that were not accepted for assessment. Of those, DPW identified 16 cases, or 27 percent, in which it was concerned because the fate of the child was not determined.

“This is very concerning as assessments were never completed on the children referred,” DPW concluded.

Tim Kimmel, Washington County director of human services, said Rogers reorganized the CYS office, implemented a tracking system for cases and decreased the average caseload of caseworkers.

Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan, who attended the meeting Monday with DPW officials, said her Children and Youth Task Force will meet today to review DPW’s recommendations.

As for the deficiencies DPW found with CYS in December, Irey Vaughan said, “Any time there’s a review, you always have findings” categorized in a ranking of seriousness.

The exact findings were not available Tuesday. The license update will likely not be posted on the DPW website until its report is finalized.

CYS’s license upgrade will mean that state taxpayers will pick up a larger share of the agency’s costs.

“With a full license, we go back to a higher reimbursement rate,” Irey Vaughan said. Asked for actual figures, she replied, “We don’t have those numbers yet. We may have them at the end of the current quarter.

“We’re very happy that they now have the confidence that CYS is headed in the right direction.”

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

View More from this Author



blog comments powered by Disqus