District Attorney Marsico's statement concerning Dauphin County Children & Youth's Provisional License

It is my understanding that the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services today downgraded Dauphin County Children and Youth Services’ (CYS) operating license.  As a result, Dauphin County CYS will for the next six months operate under a provisional license.  In May, my office released the results of the Dauphin County Grand Jury’s investigation into Dauphin County CYS.  Their  report outlined many of the same issues that now form the basis for the state to downgrade Dauphin County Children and Youth’s license.  Since the issuance of the grand jury report I have been pleased to see the Dauphin County Commissioners and Acting Dauphin County CYS Administrator Joseph Dougher implement many of the grand jury’s recommendations.  Their timely response to the issues outlined in the grand jury report is commendable.  The agency is currently heading in the right direction as they address the deficiencies that lead to the provisional license. However, not all the issues uncovered during the grand jury investigation can easily be fixed at the local level.  Some issues, such as a review of caseworker training and high caseloads need to be addressed at the statewide level. 

Much of the news that followed the release of the grand jury report focused on what went wrong at Children and Youth.  That certainly was an important and necessary part of the narrative that came out of the grand jury’s investigation.  What is important now is that we do not lose sight of the grand jury’s recommendations that address long term solutions to improve CYS caseworker and supervisor training.  A common theme from caseworkers that testified before the grand jury was that they did not feel the current required curriculum prepared them for the situations they encountered on the job.  The grand jury recommended the establishment of a Child Protection Training Center which focused on a hands on approach to training.  The grand jury also called for the state to support training programs such as Child First PA which trains county caseworkers, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers as a team.  So, I again call on our legislative leaders and the Secretary of Human Services to review the grand jury’s recommendations to consider improvements in the training of caseworkers and their supervisors.