Terry Clark, York County CYF director, leaving agency

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Terry Clark, Administrator at York Count Office of Children speaks during the Safe and Healthy Communities Initiative at the York County Children's Advocacy Center, Wednesday, August 29, 2018.  John A. Pavoncello photo

Terry Clark, the director of York County’s Office of Children, Youth and Families, on Friday worked his last shift as he transitions to pursue a different endeavor. 

Clark, who came on board as director in 2015 as the agency was working on provisional licenses that almost led to a state takeover, next week will begin a new role as the executive director of the the Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth & Family Services.

Looking back at his more than four years leading the agency that has struggled with hiring and retention issues, Clark and officials say the agency has come a long way.

"We were able to recognize the agency's issues and create a different structure," Clark said. "We added on pieces that weren't here before. We added huge components on the quality improvement side, spent a lot more time looking for caseworkers and supervisors and put in checks and balances."

More:Report: York County CYF's child abuse on par, staffing rebounds

One of the largest problems facing the agency has been staffing. In 2018, the agency had nearly 30 caseworker vacancies. However, since the county later that year left NeoGov, the state's civil service hiring program, it has only averaged roughly 10 vacancies.

Earlier this year, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released an audit of the agency and praised Clark's leadership, especially regarding staffing improvement.

Clark touts a number of accomplishments under his leadership, including creating a structural hierarchy within the agency, adding a call-screening unit and creating separate areas for intakes, family preservation and reunification.

The 27-year veteran of child-welfare work, who also was responsible for bringing Covenant House to York City, said the agency has additionally expanded its number of services and more aggressively pursued new caseworkers through information sessions.

The work hasn't gone unnoticed, said York County Commissioner Chris Reilly.

"We had a couple of rough years in terms of licensing and retention, and Terry stabilized the department," Reilly said. "He's pretty much known statewide for his ability to manage a difficult department like that."

Tanya Stauffer, the former assistant director, will be the acting director of the agency as the county performs a statewide search for someone to take the position, Reilly added.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union representing workers at the agency, didn't respond to requests for comment by deadline.

The agency received 2,098 child abuse reports last year, 176 of which were substantiated, or proven valid, according to the  auditor general's 2018 Child Protective Services Report. There were two fatalities and two near fatalities.

In terms of the total number of child abuse reports, York County ranked third in the state. It ranked fourth in substantiated reports. It also ranked fourth in terms of fatalities.

All the statistics, although deemed troubling by advocates, are on par with state averages based on population.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.