Snyder County is joining Union and 12 other counties in leading the state’s initiative supporting abused and neglected children.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court announced Wednesday that Snyder is one of six counties selected along with seven other counties chosen last year, including Union, to participate in the State Roundtable’s Family Engagement Initiative “helping families keep children safe and in permanent living situations,” said Union-Snyder Judge Michael H. Sholley.
The roundtable is a collaborative effort among state and national court and child welfare leaders.
Court and child welfare workers from the chosen counties, which also include Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Tioga and Venango, will receive training and specialized resources from experts to improve services offered to abused and neglected children and their families by increasing family involvement in dependency cases, limiting court intervention reducing trauma and the time children are separated from loved ones.
Not only is this important for the children and their families, it results in savings of hundreds of thousands of tax dollars for state and county agencies by lessening the number of children placed in high-priced detention centers, Sholley said.
By using the local Susquehanna Valley Mediation Center, he said, some families are able to avoid court intervention.
“Identifying and involving extended family members and close friends in the lives of child welfare families is so important and many times requires the support of all local leaders within the selected counties,” said Sandy Moore, director of the Office of Children and Families in the Courts.
Dependency court is “the one court where we all work together as a team to keep families safe and together,” said Sholley.
The selection process for inclusion in the roundtable was statewide, competitive and rigorous. Counties were required to submit a letter of interest, including signatures from the lead dependency judge, the president judge, the county commissioners and the child welfare director.
Final selections were made by OCFC, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ Office of Children, Youth and Families and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Max Baer.
“It’s exciting to continue working with some of Pennsylvania’s most progressive counties,” said Baer. “We have exceptional partners throughout Pennsylvania who challenge each other to improve the way we serve families and who volunteer to implement new family engagement strategies that support healthy child development.”