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CAI Holds Congressional Briefing to Unveil New Report:

Shame on U.S.
Failings by All Three Branches of Our Federal Government Leave
Abused and Neglected Children Vulnerable to Further Harm
January 27, 2015

The federal government's dereliction allows states to fall short on meeting minimum child welfare standards. Below is information specific to Pennsylvania:

CFSR Results Summary: In its Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) process, HHS determines whether each state is in substantial conformity with 7 specific outcomes (pertaining to the areas of safety, permanency and family and child well-being) and 7 systemic factors (relating to the quality of services delivered to children and families and the outcomes they experience).  In the first two rounds of the CFSR, HHS has concluded that Pennsylvania was:

Round 1 (2002)

  • NOT in substantial conformity with 6 of the 7 Outcomes
  • NOT in substantial conformity with 1 of the 7 Systemic Factors

Round 2 (2009)   

  • NOT in substantial conformity with 7 of the 7 Outcomes
  • NOT in substantial conformity with 2 of the 7 Systemic Factors

Although federal law mandates that any state found not to be operating in substantial conformity during an initial or subequent review must begin a full review within two years after approval of the state's program improvement plan, HHS has announced that Pennsylvania will not undergo Round 3 of the CFSR until FY 2017 (see CFSR Technical Bulletin #7 (March 2014)).

Documents from the U.S. Health & Human Services Children's Bureau

Child Welfare Litigation*

  • Anderson v. Houstoun
    Plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of abused and neglected children in the care of relatives or close friends. The suit alleged that state and county officials, including the Department of Public Welfare; the Office of Children, Youth, and Families, Department of Health Services of Philadelphia; and Children and Youth Services in Lancaster, Monroe, Montgomery, Beaver, and Washington Counties, withheld tens of millions of dollars per year in federal benefit payments from grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others caring for the children of troubled relatives. Federal law mandated that states that receive federal foster care funds pay the same amount to all children living with foster parents, kin, and non-relatives alike. The law also encouraged states, where possible, to place foster children with relatives or friends of the children’s parents. The suit alleged that officials in some counties explicitly told foster parents that agencies were trying to eliminate kinship foster care payments and refused to provide funds. Other counties did not advise foster parents that they were entitled to such payments.
  • Baby Neal v. Casey
    In April 1990, plaintiffs filed this suit in federal district court against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Presiding Judge of Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of children in Philadelphia’s foster care system, charging that defendants were violating the children’s constitutional and statutory rights by failing to provide them with basic mandated services.

*litigation summaries taken from information provided by the website of the National Center for Youth Law

Child Welfare In the News**

**news summaries taken from daily newsfeed service of HHS' Child Welfare Information Gateway



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Children's Advocacy Institute
University of San Diego School of Law
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