Board member O insists on DHS reform Local news

The Philadelphia City Council Committee has released a report criticizing the city’s Department of Social Services with recommendations for improving the department’s policies.

City Council member David O said DHS is generally doing a good job but not protecting children as best it can.

“Unfortunately, although he (DHS) is doing well, he is also doing badly, and some seem to be in terms of politics, while others are based on his interpretation of the law,” O. said.

Ah and Cindy Bass board member, D-8th District, are co-chairs of the Special Committee on Separation from Children.

A special committee has published findings on questionable practices such as taking away children with fake documents, arriving at a home with police to pick up a child, and placing children with foster parents known to abusers.

“We are looking for reforms that would hopefully make DHS a coveted agency in the community and neighborhoods of Philadelphia,” O. said. “I think it’s important to have transparency and accountability, and to ensure that evidence is presented and that any rebuttals are largely anonymous. allegations unfounded. “

DHS Director of Communications Nya Sturrup said the department had assessed the concerns of Board members but had just received a copy of the report on Friday and did not have enough information to respond.

“Note that this was provided after DHS made a second request for a report. Thus, we did not have time to get acquainted with the report and cannot comment on its conclusions, ”Sturrup said in an e-mail.

“DHS is still focused on supporting families. In fiscal 2021, our distraction programs (meaning families receive support to safely care for their children without DHS) served 5,182 children, ”the email said. “City council members, community stakeholders, youth and families have long been valuable partners in our efforts to support children, youth and families in Philadelphia. However, we cannot but share our disappointment that DHS was not included in the review process and that an extended copy of the report was not circulated despite a direct request from the Commissioner. Such a review would allow DHS to work in partnership on issues and recommendations. ”

Ah said the interpretation of the law led to the separation of families, which disproportionately affected black families.

“So we find ourselves in a situation where DHS Philadelphia is removing children from families and they are doing so, even if there is no evidence of child abuse,” O. said. Children are being taken away. They separate siblings and place them in foster care, where unfortunately many of these children are subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse. And, you know, again, the vast majority of these children and those – mostly single mothers – are African Americans.

Oh, he said these families are often left in no doubt. For example, he said that if he taught one of his children to ride a bike and they fell, he could take the child to the hospital without facing questions and suspicions of abuse.

“There is all the evidence that someone taught their child to ride a bike that fell by accident, but this is where the whole process of taking the child begins,” said O.

O said the main recommendation is to enforce the law more strictly, because more than 85% of children taken from families have been removed not because of abuse, but because of a selective assessment of living conditions.

O said the council’s next step would be to send a report to each member of the state legislature.

“We send it to the Minister of Health, the Secretary for Children and Youth, the Governor’s Office, and then we propose this report as an association for discussion to consider these issues,” O. said.

Children, especially black and brown, already have a negative perception of DHS, he said.

“The more we touch on this, the more we hope people come forward. It’s about the evidence. They have to present evidence, ”O. said.“ Why were their children taken away? Big problem because there is no reason why a child has been taken many times. They just say there is an accusation and then say it’s unfounded, but we want to pick up the kids and leave it to the judge. That’s all, and it’s very problematic. “

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