Major changes for DHS

July 18, 2012 3:59:57 PM PDT
Philadelphia's Department of Human Services - DHS - embattled for so many years will be undergoing major changes according to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

"This effort is all about reducing confusion," Nutter said.

Inside a rec center Wednesday, the mayor unveiled what he says is a better way to handle child welfare cases.

Over the next four years, DHS will begin outsourcing management of cases to new private community umbrella agencies.

For years now, DHS has faced legal scrutiny for shortcomings linked to the deaths of some children in its care.

Defenders of DHS believe children fell through the cracks because of the confusion over who is in charge.

The current head of DHS said that's what occurred in the death of 14-year-old Danieal Kelly who wasted away to 46 pounds despite being under the care of both DHS and a hired provider.

"We had workers who were paid by the department who were supposed to be visiting Danieal and her family; we had DHS workers who were supposed to be visiting Danieal and her family and what I come to say is when everybody is responsible, nobody's responsible," DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose said.

In the new system, DHS will depend on oversight from groups like APM which is building its new headquarters in North Philadelphia.

"What this will do, we will be able to have greater efficiencies because it will be one case manager," APM CEO Nilda Ruiz said.

DHS says it will not layoff any city workers who are being replaced by private workers, instead they will be reassigned to other roles.

The goal is to streamline case management, to make a single manager responsible for a specific child in the system.

It won't save taxpayers money, but proponents say it could save children's lives.


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