State steps in as Dauphin County Children and Youth Services operates under provisional license

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Dauphin County Children and Youth Services is now operating under a six-month, provisional license.

“Provisional” is a loaded word that means the agency now answers to the state for the next six months before re-evaluation. Two more provisional licenses would give the Department of Human Services the ability to shut CYS down.

This move comes on the heels of a long list of troubles for Dauphin County Children and Youth Services.

Public concern started with the death of nine-year-old Jarrod Tutko, Jr. He was left in filth, malnourished and forgotten. Dauphin County Children and Youth caseworkers had visited the home, but never took any action.

“When you have a child die, really what you have to do is take a deeper look into what you could do differently because that’s really the area of the utmost concern in a county children and youth agency,” Deputy Secretary of the Department of Human Services Cathy Utz said.

Dauphin County CYS has made a lot of promises, but the latest Human Services report says that’s not enough. It details areas of “non-compliance.” For example, children were listed in “safe” category, when investigations showed they should be in the “unsafe” category. There was also evidence of caseworkers failing to document children’s injuries, and some staffers were working without proper training or background checks.

CYS says it is now putting together teams to investigate suspected abuse. There are also steps to improve training.

The Department of Human Services says the promised changes are good, but they’re too big for CYS to do quickly and well by itself.

“I don’t believe the agency got here overnight, so to expect that they would correct all the areas of concern overnight is probably not something that will occur,” Utz said.

The provisional license and state oversight will mean more reviews from the Department of Human Services, along with weekly visits. The goal is to keep moving forward.

“It’s a difficult job,” Utz said. “It’s easy for us to sit and say after something happens to go back and say here what we could have done differently.”

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