York County children services issued 3rd provisional license

Greg Gross
  • The York County Office of Children, Youth & Families was issued its third consecutive provisional license

The York County Office of Children, Youth & Families has a couple more chances to get its full operating license back before the state takes over operations.

The child welfare office was issued its third consecutive provisional license by the state Department of Human Services after inspectors found numerous violations.

Offices are allowed four consecutive provisional licenses. That leaves the county's Children, Youth & Families with two more chances to correct faults before the state steps in.

"If an agency has not been issue(d) a full license at the expiration of a fourth provisional, then the state would have to assume management of the agency," said Rachel Kostelac, spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services.

Violations: A 21-page department report outlines numerous infractions, some of which were found during previous inspections, at the county Office of Children, Youth & Families.

Some of the repeat violations include clerical errors, such a worksheet that wasn't completed at the end of an investigation, and two instances of children not being seen within 24 hours of suspected abuse being reported.

Another citation notes that a report of suspected sexual abuse wasn't forwarded to law enforcement for more than a week. Caseworkers must notify police of suspected sexual abuse within 24 hours, according to the report.

The most recent inspection happened on Oct. 19 and 20, the report said.

The county has the option to appeal the provisional license, but Carl Lindquist, the county spokesman, said it will not file an appeal.

Corrective measures: The county has been taking steps to correct the violations since it was first issued a provisional license about a year ago.

The office restructured staffing to improve efficiency and oversight, hired six additional staff and refocused supervisors so they can provide additional support to caseworkers, Lindquist said.

Despite the increased staffing, he said, additional staff is needed to work through increased caseloads. The office employs about 160 people.

The office saw a nearly 86 percent increase in referrals, or 2,237 new cases, last year compared to 2014, largely due to changes in the Child Protective Services Law.

At the same time, the office has continued to experience high employee turnover, a longtime problem for the office.

"Our turnover in large part is due to the sudden influx of new referrals generated following passage of the new state child-abuse laws. While we, of course, support measures designed to improve child welfare, the new laws resulted in an abrupt, near-doubling in workload, causing some of our staff to either retire or resign in favor of other opportunities," Lindquist said.

The office is requesting the state provide added funding for the 2016-17 fiscal year to cover cost of living increases for employees as well as projected cost increases for contracted services.

History: The Office of Children, Youth & Families was issued its first provisional license about a year ago and received its second one in November.

The most recent license runs from March 15 through May 15.

Department of Human Service officials have been making biweekly visits to the office to monitor progress and to make sure improvements are being made, Kostelac said.

Officials will also be there three days later this month to do a renewal inspection, she said.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.