Children's Services

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The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) is developing a series of interactive webinars about innovative services and supports for transition age youth and young adults. These webinars will raise awareness of the needs of youth and young adults, highlight best practices, and promote dialogue about supports and services at the local, regional, and state levels. The first in this series of webinars will focus on psychiatric rehabilitation services and supports for transition age young adults. Presenters will include:

  • Scott Heller, Pennsylvania Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services
  • Heidi Eastman, Dickinson Center, Inc.
  • Angel Rogalinski, The ReDCo Group

The presentation and webcast will be held on Thursday, July 30, 1:00 – 4:00 pm. Registration is not required. In-person participation will be held at the Clothestree Building on the grounds of the Department of General Services Annex in Harrisburg.

Online via telephone and internet connection instructions:
1. Use this link
2. If requested, enter your name and email address
3. If a password is required, enter the meeting password: Doris##1
4. Click “Join”

To join the audio conference only:
To receive a call back, provide your phone number when you join the meeting, or call the number below and enter the access code.
Call-in toll-free number (US/Canada): 1-877-668-4493
Call-in toll number (US/Canada): 1-650-479-3208

Meeting Number: 642 324 254. Meeting Password: Doris##1

For additional information, please contact OMHSAS Transition Specialist Doris Arena.

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The Department of Human Services Bureau of Human Services Licensing (BHSL) has released a draft Regulatory Compliance Guide (RCG) for Chapter 3800, relating to child residential and day treatment facilities. The RCG provides guidance about how the Department of Human Services will interpret and apply the chapter’s regulatory requirements during licensing inspections and investigations.

BHSL is inviting the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association to work with members to review and comment on this draft guide. Please review the draft document and send your comments, suggestion and recommendations to Connell O’Brien. RCPA will collect provider input and share that information with the leadership of BHSL. Comments are due to RCPA by July 10 for submission to BHSL by July 17. The leadership of BHSL has communicated their clear interest in provider input and plans to take all comments into consideration prior to issuing a final RCG later this summer.

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Governor Tom Wolf has announced that fees for child abuse clearances and criminal background checks required by the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) will be waived for volunteers working with children. Beginning July 1, volunteers are required to obtain background checks, including the Child Abuse History Clearance, issued by the Department of Human Services (DHS); and the Criminal History Record Check, issued by the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP).

Additionally, DHS and the PSP will be reducing the cost of both the child abuse and criminal history record checks from $10 to $8 for all other applicants. Individuals seeking employment for work with children, and others required under the law, will still be assessed fees for the clearances, but at a reduced cost of $8 each. FBI clearances are also required for all employees and volunteers who have not been continuous residents of the commonwealth for the last ten years, but because these are administered by the federal government, current costs will continue to apply. These changes will take effect July 25.

More information about clearances required under the CPSL can be found here. Individuals seeking clearances can create an individual account and apply online.

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In 2014, Governor Corbett signed House Bill 1816, related to “Sexual Misconduct/Abuse Disclosure” for individuals working in school settings. This law, Act 168 of 2014, was designed to prevent schools from allowing school staff or others working with students to resign their position and move from school to school after committing an act of sexual misconduct or abuse. Act 168 disclosure and background checks apply to school-based mental health and medical rehabilitation providers (occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech and language therapists, health aides, etc.), as well as preschool and early intervention providers that have direct contact with children. These requirements are in addition to the clearances and background checks required under the Department of Human Service’s Child Protective Services Law requirements.


School employees and contractors are required to provide contact information for the following:

  1. Current employer (regardless of whether the current employer is a school entity or where the applicant is employed in a position that involves direct contact with children);
  2. All former employers that were school entities; and
  3. All former employers where the applicant was in a position that involved direct contact with children.


RCPA has provided a link to the Department of Education’s Act 168 “Procedures and Forms” and “Frequently Asked Questions” documents.

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In April, the staff from the Penn State University EPISCenter met with the RCPA Children’s Committee to review the impact, challenges, and “lessons learned” in Pennsylvania’s use of evidence-based and promising practices. Now the EPISCenter has developed two new reports highlighting three years of Multisystemic Therapy (MST) and Functional Family Therapy (FFT) data for fiscal years 2012-2014. These reports are designed to be shared with stakeholders and present statewide trends for utilization, outcomes, and implementation quality, while noting areas where there is variation between individual sites. These reports provide hard evidence of the high quality and productivity of FFT and MST services in Pennsylvania.

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A little known, but vital provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), provides free health insurance for former foster youth. These young adults are eligible for Medicaid until age 26, regardless of their income, provided they were in foster care at age 18 or older and also enrolled in Medicaid. An estimated 6,000+ young adults in Pennsylvania may be eligible for this coverage, but only about 900 have signed up for it. Many former foster youth have substantial health care needs and are very unlikely to have insurance. Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Law Center (JLC) has developed materials to help community providers reach out to and inform current and former foster youth that you may be serving in your programs.

Visit the JLC website to download flyers and other informational resources on the ACA provision. View and share the JLC’s 30-second public service announcement on free health insurance for former foster youth.

May is Foster Care Month. What better time to help foster youth get the vital health care that all young people need? If you have any questions or want more information, contact Jenny Pokempner at JLC.