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County Leader Workgroup Releases Findings and Recommendations for Complex Cases

News Date: Thursday, February 29, 2024

The report shows that between January 1 and June 30 of 2023, over 250 youth slept somewhere other than a licensed placement facility.
A report showing findings and recommendations in addressing complex cases in Pennsylvania has been released by a workgroup of 17 county leaders.

Complex cases involve situations where minors, who are in the custody of the county, are not receiving the level of care sufficient to meet their mental, behavioral or physical needs. An example of this would be a dependent and/or delinquent youth sleeping in a Children and Youth Services office or hotel instead of receiving the care necessary to meet their needs.

See full report/summary. 

“Our county workgroup has come together to solve the Rubik’s Cube of Children and Youth to help children with both physical and behavioral health needs,” said Dauphin County Commissioner and Chair of the workgroup George Hartwick.

The report shows that between January 1 and June 30 of 2023, over 250 youth slept somewhere other than a licensed placement facility and 175 youth were forced to stay in a hospital beyond their discharge date. During this time period, 45 counties were able to provide data on the number of youths forced to sleep somewhere other than a licensed child placement facility.

“In Lawrence County, and in counties throughout the commonwealth, we have found it very difficult to place some of our children and have had to place them temporarily in hospitals or hotels as we attempted to search for appropriate providers. And some of those providers are maybe 5 or 6 hours away from where we are located,” said Lawrence County Commissioner and workgroup member Dan Vogler.

Hear from workgroup members. 

Approved for establishment by the CCAP Board in March of 2023, the workgroup spent nearly a year dissecting the currently complex case landscape and bringing forth thoughtful solutions that can be instituted immediately.

“What counties need are programs that will take these youths and allow them to have a safe place to stay,” said Executive Director of Lancaster County Children and Youth Crystal Natan. “We also need more programs that are equipped to deal with the complex cases needs of our youth.”

The workgroup’s report includes recommendations pertaining to program development, policy changes, use of technology and the negative outcomes for children, youth and staff.

“This is truly a county emergency as real as tornados or wildfires. These children and families are often suffering trauma on top of trauma,” Hartwick said.