DHS Receives National Recognition
The Department of Human Services is pleased to garner national recognition for reforms and improvements made to the human services system in Allegheny County. Such efforts, most often made in collaboration with contracted providers and other community partners, have advanced the goals of the DHS Vision for an exemplary human services system that provides the highest quality services to Allegheny County residents.
Since its creation in 1997, DHS has worked to improve the way human services are provided to the residents of Allegheny County. DHS Innovations highlights some of the most significant DHS achievements.
Exceptional Individuals Honored for Improving Life Outcomes for Vulnerable Children and Families (.pdf)
Casey Family Programs, January 22, 2014
The New Government Leader: Mobilizing Agile Public Leadership in Disruptive Times
Deloitte University Press, August 2013, pgs. 6-7.
Focus on foster care in Pa. yields falling numbers
Associated Press, August 6, 2013
Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference
Justice News, U.S. Department of Justice, March 4, 2013
Human Services: Sustained and Coordinated Efforts Could Facilitate Data-Sharing While Protecting Privacy
U.S. Government Accountability Office, February 2013, pgs. 10-23 and Appendix 1
The DHS Data Warehouse is one of four efforts analyzed nationally for their success in sharing data while protecting privacy.
Youth Support Partners: Building Trust and Improving Service Delivery for Youth
Locally Speaking - Policy and Practice, December 2012
Practice Innovations in Child Welfare
American Public Human Services Association, October 2012, pgs. 18-19.
Service Collaboration, Getting by with a little help from your friends
Health and Human Services Special Report, Governing Institute and Center for Digital Government, September 2012, pgs. 20-21
Highlights the process utilized by the Allegheny County DHS to create a more integrated human services system.
Stepping Up for Kids - what government and communities should do to support kinship families
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, May 2012, page 11.
Examines the challenges and rewards of providing kinship care and makes suggestions to improve the circumstances in kinship families to promote better outcomes for children.
Building the Framework for Human Services Integration - Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Policy & Practice, December 2011
Pacesetter Case Study: Family Services of Western Pennsylvania
Annapolis Coalition on the Behavioral Health Workforce, 2011
Family Services of Western Pennsylvania partners with DHS to improve the provision of behavioral health services in Allegheny County. Family Services was the 2011 Behavioral Health Pacesetter Award-winner for its innovative work in support of direct care workers. The award is sponsored by the Annapolis Coalition and the Hitachi Foundation.
Communications Corner: Your Baby is Counting on You
Policy & Practice Magazine, December 2011
h Magazine, Winter 2010, pgs. 4-11.
Examines how, with support from foundations and other organizations, Allegheny County Jail Collaborative programs help inmates stay out of trouble after release by showing them how to pull their lives and their families together.
How Are the Children? Inspiring Hope. Renewing Vision. Influencing Action. Casey Family Programs 2010 Annual Report
Casey Family Programs, May 2010, pgs. 18-20.
Reviews the progress made toward the Casey Family Programs' 2020 Strategy which has the goal of improving supports to families so that the nation can safely reduce the need for out-of-home placement.
Strategies for Improving Homeless People's Access to Mainstream Benefits and Services
Prepared for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, March 2010.
Examines the effective, inclusive, and creative mechanisms used by seven communities, including Allegheny County, to implement the HUD Supportive Housing Program Continuum of Care, specifically the strategies used to ensure that homeless individuals and families are able to receive the supportive services they need.
Advancing Data on Homelessness in Eleven Communities
Prepared for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs in the Office of Community Planning Development, February 2010, pg. 39.
Applauds the efforts of 11 communities across the nation to utilize their Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) to produce high-quality, innovative program- and system-level data. The DHS chapter, Improving System Effectiveness by Combining Multiple Data Sources, begins on page 39.
$15 million computer system makes agency more accountable
Support centers give families a place to interact
Milwaukee child welfare system can learn from Pittsburgh area
Program empowers families to make decisions
Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, December 14, 2009
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel visited DHS as part of an investigation into how the Milwaukee child welfare system could be improved and reported on ways that DHS CYF could serve as an example.
Related editorial: It's time for reform that involves the community (January 9, 2010)
Allegheny County's Housing Support Team Takes an Individualized Approach
National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, National Council Magazine, 2009, Issue 3, pg. 24.
Presents the success achieved through the DHS Permanent Supportive Housing program which assists individuals with mental health concerns locate, acquire and maintain their own apartment in the community while receiving services to support their needs.
h Magazine, January 2009
Interviews youth, who are aging out of the foster care system, about how they have taken advantage of innovative foundation-funded programs that help them pursue post-secondary education.
Effective County Practices in Jail-to-Community-Transition Planning for Offenders with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders
Reentry for Safer Communities, National Association of Counties, Bureau of Justice Assistance, September 2008, pgs. 6-7.
Examines the Allegheny County Jail Collaborative, which brings together DHS, the Allegheny County Jail and Health Department, for its unique efforts to assist current and former inmates prepare for and be successful with their reintegration into the community.
Building an Interoperable Human Services System - How Allegheny County Transformed Systems, Services and Outcomes for Vulnerable Children and Families
A Case Study by Stewards of Change, October 2008
Examines the changes DHS instituted to integrate traditional human services silos for the benefit of consumers.
The State of Technology in Aging Services in Pennsylvania
Center for Aging Services Technology, American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, October 2008, pgs. 35-37.
Details the efforts of the DHS Area Agency on Aging to incorporate additional assistive technologies into the lives of older adults in Allegheny County.
Bringing Together The Players
Chicago Reporter, September 2, 2008
Highlights the innovative efforts Allegheny County has instituted to meet the needs of children of incarcerated parents and their caregivers.
A Worthy Diversion
The Politics of Mental Illness, The American Prospect Special Report, July/August 2008
Explores Allegheny County’s use of the Sequential Intercept Model, which includes Mental Health Court, to divert offenders with mental illness away from the criminal-justice system.
Mental Health Courts – How special courts can serve justice and help mentally ill offenders
U.S. News and World Report, February 7, 2008
Recounts the unique qualities of the Allegheny County Mental Health Court and the program’s success at reducing recidivism for adults with mental health diagnoses.
Time for Reform: Investing in Prevention, Keeping Children Safe At Home
Kids Are Waiting (KAW), The Pew Charitable Trusts, January 29, 2008, pg.11.
Explores how the child welfare system in Allegheny County focuses on prevention services – before children are removed from their homes – to successfully reduce the number of children in out-of-home placement.
Child Abuse and Neglect Cost Nation over $100 Billion per year; Most Federal Child Welfare Funds Unavailable for Prevention Services and Supports
Press Release, January 29, 2008
Allegheny County Jail Collaborative Evaluation
University of Pittsburgh, January 3, 2008
Funded by the Human Services Integration Fund. The Collaborative’s vision, a collaboration of three systems working together to successfully return inmates to the community was shown to be of value in reducing both recidivism and justice-related expenses. In addition, former inmates reported a personal value in taking part in the services.
Living in the Homes of Strangers: Foster Care Reform Should Focus on Family
The Woman’s International Perspective, November 29, 2007
Examines Allegheny County’s reliance on kin as the first choice of caregiver when children must be removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect.
Behavioral Health Justice-Related Services and Beyond in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
American Jails Magazine, November/December 2007
Details the best-practices programs and process the DHS Office of Behavioral Health, Division of Justice-Related Services has put into place to reduce recidivism and improve community safety through the five-level Sequential Intercept Model that diverts persons with mental health and substance use disorders away from incarceration and into treatment and attentive case management.
Child welfare agency in county draws national praise
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 26, 2007
Allegheny County is praised by the Annie E. Casey Foundation for turning its child welfare system from a national disgrace into a national model through working together to fund and establish extensive prevention and early intervention services.
2007 KIDS COUNT Data Book
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, July 2007, pgs. 11-12.
Applauds Allegheny County’s investment in intensive, community- and home-based prevention services for families at risk of child abuse and/neglect.
Essay: Lifelong Family Connections: Supporting Permanence for Children in Foster Care
On the Move: Helping Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Needs Transition to Adulthood - Partnerships for Youth Transitions (PYT)
Partnerships for Youth Transition Initiative, June, 2007
Examines, in brief, the results of the Partnerships for Youth Transitions initiatives funded by SAMHSA in five communities across the country, including Allegheny County.
Justice, Treatment, and Cost: An Evaluation of the Fiscal Impact of Allegheny County Mental Health Court
RAND Corporation, March 1, 2007
Presents findings from a RAND Corporation fiscal impact study of the Allegheny County Mental Health Court that indicate that utilizing Mental Health Court is a fiscally prudent alternative to incarceration for offenders with mental illness.
Allegheny County Maps Data to an Array of Services
InfoWorld, November 13, 2006
Explains why the innovative and forward-thinking DHS HumanServices.net was selected as one of the Top 100 Projects of 2006 by InfoWorld. InfoWorld Top 100 Projects slide presentation
An Effective Child Welfare System and Evidence-based Practice for the Child Welfare System
National Family Preservation Network, October 2006
Proposes that other systems examine and adapt the DHS Office of Children, Youth and Families’ practice of utilizing innovative, evidence-based practices in the child welfare system to improve outcomes for children and families.
DHS 10-Year Anniversary – Office of Children, Youth and Families – A National Leader DHS News, October 2006
Helping Troubled Families Keep their Kids – One County’s Solution to Foster Care Crisis
ABC World News Tonight with Charles Gibson, June 2, 2006,
Shows how the Allegheny County child welfare system works to preserve families and lessen the need for foster care by stabilizing and strengthening families thereby minimizing the risk of harm to the children. Narrated by ABC News Correspondent Pierre Thomas.
Hurricane Katrina: A Community’s Response to a National Disaster
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, April 2006
Examines the immediate and intensive county-wide effort, coordinated through DHS, to welcome and assist Gulf Coast residents who arrived in Allegheny County after fleeing the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
The Allegheny County Adoption Legal Services Project Selected as Semi-finalists for Award
Allegheny County Press Release, March 23, 2006
Allegheny County Adoption Legal Services Project (ALSP) was named among the Top 50 Government Innovations for 2006 by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Allegheny County State Forensic Support Services wins Government "Oscar."
Harvard Kennedy School, Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, July 2005
Reports that the Allegheny County DHS Justice-related State Support Program (formerly State Forensic Support Services Program) is honored with the Ash Institute Innovations in American Government award for the success it has achieved in reducing recidivism for persons with mental health disorders or dual-diagnoses (MH and drug and alcohol) that are reentering their local communities after completing their sentences in a Pennsylvania state prison.
Eighteen Pioneering Initiatives Recognized for Government “Oscar”–Best and Brightest from Public Sector Eligible for $100,000 Prize
USA Today, May 9, 2005
Highlights the DHS Forensic Support Services program as one of the finalist for an award presented to six programs that take “a creative approach to solve a difficult problem.”
Trying a Team Approach to Stop Child Abuse – Pittsburgh's Child Welfare System Overhaul Considered Model for Country
ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, April 26, 2005, Part II
Documents and explores the Allegheny County policy of involving a team of individuals in a family’s service plan to keep children safe within their birth families. Narrated by ABC correspondent Pierre Thomas. The first part of this two-part report, aired on April 25, explores a system in crisis in the state of Indiana.
A Spirit of Collaboration - A conversation with Marc Cherna
Policy and Practice, American Public Human Services Association, June 2004
Repaving the Long Road Out of Prison
New York Times, May 4, 2004
Commends the Allegheny County Mental Health Court and its associated services for successfully reducing recidivism rates of former Pennsylvania prison inmates with mental health diagnoses.
Pa. Success a Guide for DYFS Plan
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 22, 2004
Praises Allegheny County’s 1998 child welfare plan as a “national model” that should influence a new child welfare plan in New Jersey.
Paula Zahn NOW, November 6, 2003. p.3.
Richard Wexler, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, promotes the Allegheny County child welfare system as a “model system” due to its emphasis on family preservation. He further suggests that other municipalities emulate it.
Special Report - Workforce Issues Mental Health Weekly, Vol. 13, No. 16, April 22, 2003
A close examination of the unique qualities of the Community Connections for Families (CCF) program in Pittsburgh's Hill District - and why it works.
When the Mask Slips
PBS – FRONTLINE, January 2003, pp.1-2, 4
Extols Allegheny County for dramatically reducing the number of children in foster care by focusing on prevention services. The piece also suggests that the Maine Department of Human Services replace its “take-the-child-and-run” mentality with a focus instead on family preservation.
CNN NEWSNIGHT with Aaron Brown
Back to Top
August 14, 2002
Richard Wexler, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, examines the turn-around in Allegheny County’s child welfare system in 1998, and commends the “shining national model” for showing the nation how child welfare can be fixed.