Pennsylvania counties are reiterating their call for increased staffing and funding for county children and youth agencies, following today’s release by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale of an interim report on operational issues with the ChildLine system.
The Auditor General’s report made evident that there has been a dramatic increase in calls to ChildLine, which takes the reports and forward them on to county children and youth agencies. Counties, which carry primary responsibility for services for abused and neglected children, then conduct the actual child abuse investigation based on those reports.
“While we applaud the Department of Human Services (DHS) for regularly increasing staffing to ChildLine, we would be remiss if we did not note that the continuing stagnation in state funding has prevented counties from doing the same,” said Brian Bornman, executive director of Pennsylvania Children and Youth Agencies, an affiliate of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.
Although DHS received supplemental appropriations to increase their staff at ChildLine as a result of nearly 30 new child welfare statutes enacted in 2014, counties were not permitted to reopen their child welfare budgets to add needed staff, even though most counties have seen a 35 to 50 percent increase in the number of investigations they must complete. Some counties saw sustained increases in 2015 of more than 100 percent compared to 2014 investigations. As a priority for 2016, counties are seeking an increase in the financial match for child welfare staff and adequate funding for human services.
“Too often, child welfare mandates are placed on the counties without any means to pay for them,” Bornman said. “It is imperative that that changes to the laws affecting child welfare be accompanied with supplemental appropriations for all who must deal with the impacts, at the time the mandates go into effect. The timing for implementing mandates must also be more mindful of the child welfare budgeting cycle so the counties who actually do the work can assure adequate staffing to protect the children of the Commonwealth.”
To read more about counties’ priorities on child welfare and human services funding, go to www.pacounties.org and click 2016 Legislative Priorities.
The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) is the voice of county government, a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. CCAP membership includes county commissioners, council members, county executives, administrators, chief clerks and solicitors. CCAP strengthens the counties’ abilities to govern their own affairs and improve the well-being and quality of life for every Pennsylvania resident. It advocates for favorable state and federal legislation, programs and policies on behalf of counties. CCAP is committed to service excellence through education, information, insurance, technology and other programs that support effective county government. Founded in 1866, CCAP is an affiliate of the National Association of Counties.