Last week, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law numerous revisions to Pennsylvania’s Welfare Code, including a significant new effort to promote “family finding” in the state’s foster care system. Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children supported the family finding proposal and is pleased to see its enactment.
Family finding involves a process of searching for, identifying and engaging the relatives - or even close family friends – of children who have been removed from their homes and placed into foster care or whose immediate families are receiving services from the county's children and youth agency. Involving extended family as part of a child's support system is better for the child, in part because we know children are best cared for within their families and communities.
“The General Assembly is to be congratulated for advancing this important piece of legislation during a busy budget season, and Rep. Dan Moul in particular should be commended for his hard work in pursuing enactment of family finding,” said PPC President and CEO Joan Benso. She noted Rep. Moul (R-Adams) spent nearly three years working to advance the measure.
Unfortunately, a companion effort (House Bill 1076) called “family conferencing” did not make it to the governor’s desk before the summer legislative recess, but PPC is hopeful the measure could receive consideration this fall.
Family conferencing builds off of family finding in that once a child's extended support system is identified, child welfare officials can invite family members to a conference or meeting where everyone works together to develop a plan to support the children and family. The conferencing process emphasizes the natural supports and resources that families have, prompting those families to take the lead on developing a plan to promote the safety and well-being of the children involved. This is a more lasting, sustainable approach than expecting a child welfare agency to push short-term interventions on a family and expect long-term benefits.
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