Mayor Jim Kenney signed an executive order that creates the Child Welfare Oversight Board (CWOB), whose duty is to review and assess the Department of Human Services.
The CWOB replaces the Community Oversight Board, which recently concluded its service to the city, after DHS implemented recommendations the board was charged with overseeing.
“The CWOB assumes the huge responsibility of assessing the progress of the City’s child welfare system,” Kenney said. “They are an important part of ensuring that we deliver quality services for children and families in Philadelphia. I’m grateful to all the members of this board for volunteering their time and expertise to assist in these efforts.”
In an August 2017 letter to the mayor, Community Oversight Board Chair David Sanders wrote: “The most recent DHS outcome report to the Community Oversight Board clearly reflected dramatically improved performance by DHS...strong leadership and a consistent direction is vital at this time and you have that with Commissioner Figueroa.”
The CWOB will primarily provide oversight for Improving Outcomes for Children—Philadelphia’s child welfare system, which includes six private agencies who operate ten Community Umbrella Agencies and provide daily case management for children and families involved with DHS.
The CWOB will review the progress of DHS.
Specifically, they will review and assess DHS progress in implementing the Improving Outcomes for Children model and other reform initiatives; the department’s progress implementing the recommendations outlined in the recent third-party evaluation of Improving Outcomes for Children, as well as any other reforms suggested by the Board. It also provides advice to DHS on its Needs Based Plan and Budget.
To date, the confirmed volunteer members of the CWOB reflect expertise child welfare and related fields, as well as lived experience. They are:
• Cindy Christian, M.D. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and holder of the Anthony A. Latini Endowed Chair in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
• Fran Gutterman, Casey Family Programs, retired
• John L. Jackson, Jr. University of Pennsylvania, Dean, School of Social Policy and Practice
• Mimi Laver, Director, Legal Education at American Bar Association, Center on Children and the Law
• Mayra Morales, Resource Parent
• Joanna Otero-Cruz, City of Philadelphia Deputy Managing Director of Community Services
• David Rubin, MD, Director, Policy Lab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
• Robert Schwartz, Temple Law School and co-founder of the Juvenile Law Center
• Judith Silver, Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
• Colleen Shanahan, Temple Law School Associate Clinical Professor
• Anthony Simpson, Youth Representative
Ex-officio members are Cynthia F. Figueroa, commissioner, Department of Human Services, David Jones, commissioner, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities, and Eva Gladstein, deputy managing director Health and Human Services.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services requires the City to appoint and advisory committee to review and make recommendations for the county’s children and youth social service program.
— Staff Writer Phillip Jackson contributed to this report