Department of Public Welfare

The Corbett administration wants to expand the block grant approach of funding county human services programs, despite concerns that assessments of the new method have been done in a vacuum.

The human services block grant was approved in 2012, changing the way certain counties receive human services funding. Instead of getting discrete funding for seven different programs, selected counties have received one lump sum to parcel out among all the services.

Pennsylvania is excepting to add 720 new employees to accommodate the influx of new healthcare enrollees if Healthy PA goes into effect. 

According to the Department of Public Welfare, the additional jobs would be permanent and spread across the state. Funding for the new hires would come from the federal government.

An audit of the state Department of Public Welfare has found the consolidation of payroll services for home care workers was botched, leading to pay delays for at least 4,000 workers.

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says workers were the collateral damage when a contract went to a single payroll provider that was not ready for prime time.

"You gotta have better oversight of the program," he said. "That means there’s got to be real dates, there’s gotta be real timelines, real items to be met."

People working for or in the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare’s Participant Direction Service (PDS) can now log onto a new Google Group to seek answers to common questions.

The PDS allows care recipients to control where, when and how some of their services and supports are delivered. With participant direction they become a type of employer to care workers. There are about 16,000 participants and 20,000 workers involved in the program. 

If there’s any expansion at all to move hundreds of thousands more Pennsylvanians onto the Medicaid rolls, it’ll have to be custom-made for the commonwealth.

Department of Public Welfare Secretary Bev Mackereth says her staff is looking at how other states have made the expansion a partly public-private partnership – sending people to buy health care insurance from the federally mandated exchange and using federal dollars to pay for it.

Other things, she says, require more negotiation.

The state Department of Public Welfare wants to reduce mental health stigma.

A new initiative, "Mental Health Matters," is being funded by a reduction in Community Hospital Integration Program Project, or CHIPP, funding to a county that was unable to move clients into the community in the time frame that was originally planned and from money set aside for litigation needs that wasn’t used, according to department spokeswoman Donna Morgan.

As measures to strengthen child protection efforts gather steam in the state House and Senate, the head of the state's Department of Public Welfare is urging caution.

The General Assembly's immediate response to the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case was to create a task force to look into what's needed to make children in the commonwealth safer. More than four months later, proposals modeled on those suggestions are coming up for votes.

Allegheny County has reported to the state government on the reforms it has implemented at the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center following a Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) investigation into the alleged physical abuse of a child inmate in January.

Now the county must wait at least a few days for the DPW to rule on the status of the Shuman Center's license as a juvenile detention facility.

The license could be downgraded to a provisional status or the inmates could even be transferred, according to DPW spokeswoman Donna Morgan.

The head of the state Department of Public Welfare is sounding an optimistic note about a possible Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania.

Acting DPW secretary Bev Mackereth said she’s following up with federal officials about the topic of adding hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to the government-run health insurance program.

She said federal officials have been forthcoming with information to the best of their ability.

A measure to change the name of the state Department of Public Welfare has passed a state House committee amid concerns of the potential costs of a switch.

Earlier this week, the acting secretary of DPW said renaming the agency the Department of Human Services would cost $8 million, most of which would be spent on changes to computer programs.

But Republican state Rep. Thomas Murt of Montgomery County said he’s surprised by the estimate, given that three years ago, a fiscal analysis of such a move pegged the cost at half a million dollars.

A state House committee is expected to vote on a plan to change the name of the state Department of Public Welfare.

A plan aiming to change the agency’s name never made it past the House Committee on Human Services last session.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's administration has terminated three top employees of the Department of Public Welfare, several weeks after the agency's secretary left.

A department spokeswoman declined Monday to say why the men lost their jobs, calling it a personnel matter.

The men included Philip Abromats, the executive director of audits and regulatory affairs, and special assistants Erik Randolph and Ron Semerjian. Former Secretary Gary Alexander's last day was Feb. 15.

Abromats says he was fired without notice Friday and not told why.