The Adolescent Unit provides services to adolescents and their families. Clientele are defined as abused, neglected adolescents who exhibit numerous adjustment difficulties such as: parent child conflict, truancy and school problems, abuse of drugs and alcohol, teenage pregnancy, psychological/emotional difficulties, learning disorders and delinquency problems. Youth are served within their own homes, foster care, community based facilities and residential facilities.
CONCURRENT PLANNING UNIT
The Concurrent Planning Unit consists of five Caseworkers and one Social Services Aide. This unit was developed as a response to the Adoption and Safe Families Act, in an effort to ensure that children placed in foster care placement achieve a permanent plan in a timely manner.
The Child Welfare Standards of safety, permanence, timeliness, and wellbeing are woven through this unit's practice.
Its main function, permanency planning, is achieved through the casework model. Each caseworker, along with the family, develops, monitors, and updates Family Service Plans which seek to aid the family in the return home of their children. Family visitation, court preparation, linkage to community services, family support, and ASFA related documentation comprise the duties of the Concurrent Planning Caseworker.
As the name "Concurrent Planning" suggests, caseworkers in this unit are considering dual plans when working with families. If necessary, the goal of termination of parental rights and adoption is explored and considered when the grounds exist.
As always, the best interest of children is always considered in the casework model, as are the standards of timeliness, safety, well being, and permanence.
CPS / GPS INTAKE UNIT
The CPS / GPS Intake Unit assesses all reports of abuse or neglect. Following Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public Welfare laws, regulations, and guidelines and Luzerne County procedures and policies, the intake department evaluates each child and family using a comprehensive risk and safety assessment methodology and case management techniques. The unit determines if the child is abused or neglected and takes appropriate measures to ensure the safety. Services are provided within the home environment and sometimes through separation of the child(ren) from the family. The CPS/GPS Unit is staffed by five caseworkers, one social service support worker, and one supervisor. The department assesses reports of abuse and/or neglect received through the Screening Unit or during the after hours crisis coverage. The unit evaluates the family's needs while ensuring the safety of the child(ren) and determine if the family should be served by Luzerne County Children and Youth Services and/or another community agency.
Additional duties include assessing requests from the Juvenile Court to complete custody assessments, as well as providing short-term ongoing protective services. Court related issues of dependency; Protection From Abuse Orders are also part of the Intake Unit's job duties.
Public information is provided the community through speaking engagements and meetings with the community and workers such as medical staff, teachers, daycare workers, and foster parents.
CPS GPS ONGOING/ PROTECTIVE SERVICES UNIT
The combined Child Protective and General Protective Services ongoing unit provides both Child Protective and General Protective treatment services to children and their families.
The CPS workers provide intensive casework and counseling services to families where child abuse has been substantiated. The CPS worker offer their families individual, and family therapeutic services, as well as, develop effective treatment plans with the family, resource providers, and the legal system when court action must be taken. The CPS Worker’s responsibly is to met with the families once a week to work together on the developed treatment plan to prevent further abuse, and to ensure the safety of the children.
The General Protective Caseworker provide casework services to children and families to obtain appropriate treatment services to meet the families needs and to prevent further child neglect.
Both CPS/GPS caseworkers utilize the community resources, coordinate the services and ensure that the children and families needs are being met. They also work with families whose children are out-of-home placements, whether that be foster care, formal or informal kinship care. The goals of this unit is to ensure the safety of the children, to preserve families, to network family and community to equip families with the necessary knowledge to prevent future child abuse/neglect.
The function of the Education Unit is to incorporate the contents of Pa. OCYSF Bulletin 3130 into the practices of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services. This includes training agency staff, foster parents, education decision makers, court personnel, birth parents, guardians and others specific laws, policies and regulations regarding education, special education, new juvenile rules and methods and techniques used to understand and competently deal with i.e.p meetings, 504 service plan development and meetings. The unit also makes itself available to agency, guardians and others who wish to consult on specific educations problems experienced by children on their caseloads such as truancy, school phobia, enrollment and other educational issues which may occur on a frequent basis. The goal is to help agency staff competently function independently when dealing with school authorities and in the various school meetings that can often be difficult and confusing.
Caseworkers are required to have a child’s education records in their files. If there are problems getting records, we can offer advice on how to obtain these records.
Maintaining school stability
When a child is struggling in school
Education Decision Maker (especially important for children in special education)
Questions about education when a child is in an RTF
School and pregnancy
School discipline issues
Alternative Education for disruptive Youth (ALC)
Different school settings; homebound, cyber, partial hospitalization, etc
The Hazleton Center has implemented monthly meeting with various community agencies and facilities in an effort to coordinate and monitor services to our families. In addition, A Children and Youth representative is a permanent member of the Child and Adolescent Service System program (CASSP) Team that meets every other week in the Hazleton Area.
In January of 2006, the Hazleton office expanded, adding an additional intake worker and an ongoing worker to the office. With this expansion, it was required that an additional supervisor be hired to supervise ongoing general protective services.
This position is responsible for primary screening and telephone coverage to receive all new referrals to the agency regarding child abuse and neglect.
Receives all crisis sheets after clearing and determines appropriate distribution to CPS, GPS Intake, Hazleton, SAAU, and/or other community resources.
Determines the appropriateness of Children and Youth Services intervention and performs preliminary screening assessment on the child(ren) being referred. Refers to community resource. Alerts the Intake Supervisors of those referrals which may require an immediate response by the agency.
Documents referral data on an agency intake assessment form as per agency procedures. Completes accompanying computer data entry information. Provides a response to the referral source, including telephone, written and in-person contacts, when appropriate. Distributes the referral information to the appropriate unit.
Proved the information and referral to other community agencies. Contacts the appropriate community agency mandates, polices, procedures and services.
This worker interprets programs, policies and procedures to individuals, groups and agencies regarding referral process and Children and Youth Services agency service delivery.
This work meets on a regularly schedules basis with the Child Protective Services Intake Supervisor and is assigned additional related duties by all Intake Supervisors. This worker participates in schedules meetings with intake department, agency staff meetings, training, workshops and seminars.
KINSHIP CARE UNIT
The Kinship Care Unit of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services provides many services to families whose children live with a relative or friend of the family. The unit acts as an information pathway to families who need information on formal or informal kinship care.
Workers on the unit complete home studies on those families who are interested in the formal kinship care option, where they become kinship care foster parents for the agency. If a family is approved as a foster family, the caseworker remains connected to that family as the foster care support worker. The unique aspect of this unit is that if a resource family opts for formal kinship care and is approved, the caseworker will, in most cases, become the worker for the biological family case of the children in the home as well. The unit accepts cases where a majority of the children live in a formal kinship care setting.
When a family is interested in the informal kinship care option, workers on the unit are available to meet with them to provide information on resources that may be available to them. Workers can help a family access the county assistance office as well as programs such as WIC, support groups, and grandparent education events.
The unit also completes kinship foster home studies for interested parties looking to be a resource for children from other states who may be placed through the Interstate Compact system. If a resource home is approved for a child from another state, the caseworker becomes the worker for the resource family, but the worker will also supervise the placement for the other state and provide supportive services for the placement. Workers are responsible for providing supervision reports to the sending states on a quarterly basis.
Kinship Care Unit Caseworkers will manage/provide direct services for families and children who are placed out if the custody of their parents. The children may be placed either in formal or informal kinship care or with emergency caretakers. Responsibilities include assessment, approval and ongoing work with kinship caregivers. Caseworker is also responsible for making all necessary referrals for children and parents and coordinate services so that the children can achieve permanency. The caseworker will also need to complete all court related work including dependency, reviews, and permanency hearings and providing information for TPR cases. Knowledge required for the Kinship Care Unit Caseworker includes: All regulatory and policy requirements, foster care regulation, policy and procedure, knowledge of ASFA and SWAN requirements.
The Placement Department is responsible for the recruitment, evaluation, training, approval, and support of Resource Family Foster/Adopt homes. Following Department of Public Welfare laws, regulations and guidelines, as well as agency policies and procedures, the placement department conducts comprehensive studies of resource family applicants to determine approval, as well as determine appropriate use.
The unit is further responsible for locating appropriate placement settings for children, as needed. Using our own resources, as well as other resources throughout the state, the unit locates the best placement to meet the child’s needs. An important component of the unit is the ongoing training and support provided to our resource families. Using a variety of techniques, the ongoing needs of the resource family for specialized training or support are assessed. Trainings are offered on an ongoing basis to better equip them in their role.
To meet the needs of all the children we serve, the following programs exist within the placement department: respite foster care, regular foster care, foster/adopt and therapeutic host homes. The placement unit works in conjunction with other department in the agency to tailor placements to best meet each child’s specific needs.
SUPPORT SERVICES STAFF
Support services personnel are a critical component of our agency. The realm of support services is diverse and includes communications, documentation, information processing, documents control, legal and personnel. With the increasing number of child abuse cases and the hiring of additional casework personnel, the clerical staff faces the challenge of providing essential and effective services.
Although each member of the support staff has specialized tasks for which they are responsible, Legal Secretaries, Clerks and Clerk Typists coordinate efforts to ensure typing, record keeping, tracking systems, data input, and document organization needs are met. They also operate the communication systems within the agency as well as in-person and public contact with providers and client/families.
In order to accomplish these tasks, the support staff work closely with caseworker, supervisory, and administrative units to meet the agency goals while adhering to various Department of Public Welfare regulatory requirements.
The Legal Department of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services is responsible for initiating Court proceedings pursuant to the Juvenile Act and the Child Protective Services Law. The Adoptions and Safe Families Act (ASFA), enacted in 1997, requires the Legal Department to provide representation at Permanency Review Hearings which are held every six months for each child in foster care placement. The Legal Department also provides representation to the Agency for Termination of Parental Rights Hearings as part of meeting the statutory obligations of ASFA.
The Legal Department provides training to all Children and Youth staff regarding the legal aspects of child abuse, expungement, dependency, shelter care, termination of parental rights and permanency reviews.
The Legal Department represents the Agency in all appeals from the Court of Common Pleas to the Appellate Courts of the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania which include preparation of all legal pleadings, preparation of legal briefs, preparation of all reproduced records and oral arguments to the Appellate Courts.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT
The Information Technology Department is an increasingly important facet of the Agency. It has a staff of four people that supports and maintains a Wide Area Network that includes approximately 200 users in three buildings, the Main Office, Hazleton Office and Visitation Center. It also provides network services to fourteen School Based workers located in the schools with more to be added.
The IT Department also maintains and is responsible for data input for two separate tracking systems the Agency Timekeeping System and the AFCARS System which tracks children in placement.
Training is provided by IT staff to all users regarding network access, Microsoft products, Timesheets, AFCARS and ACYS the Child Welfare System. The Department also tracks, collects and reports statistical data to Agency personnel, the State and Federal Government agencies.
The IT Department staff is dedicated to providing the highest quality services to Luzerne County and the staff of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services.
The Accounting Department of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services have the responsibility for the agency’s fiscal operations, insuring compliance with Federal, State, and Local Governments through detailed reporting.
Funding for all operations of the agency is determined through the Needs Based Budget with approval by the Commonwealth. This allows the agency to perform daily operations and fulfill the needs of the children in our community..