Audit outlines 71 violations as DHS struggles with growing caseloads

on 30 May 2016


Philadelphia's long-troubled child welfare system is taking on water. Even as it struggles to improve its oversight of the city's most vulnerable children, its mission has been made more difficult by a swelling caseload.

In just the last three years, Philadelphia's Department of Human Services has seen the number of children in its foster-care system grow from 4,100 to 6,100. The impact was evident in a state audit released this month that listed 71 violations by the department, the majority stemming from the strains on the system.

The growth has left workers struggling to keep up with hotline calls and manage the responsibilities that come with children in foster homes.

Michael Vogel, CEO of Turning Points for Children, one of the 10 CUAs in the city, said 392 case managers were doing the work previously handled by 660 before the overhaul. Each handles about 13 cases, many involving multiple children. The goal had been 10 cases per worker.

"This heavy workload for the case managers, the core of any child welfare system, leaves little time for the complex work of developing and implementing a plan to move a child into a permanent living arrangement," Vogel said.

Turnover is also extremely high among CUA workers, which can slow resolution of a child's case.

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