Children & Youth Services

Penni L. Abram, Director
Email:  pabram@juniataco.org
Phone:  717-436-7707
Emergency Phone:  717-436-7770, between the hours of 4:30 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. daily, during holidays, and over weekends
Fax:  717-436-7708
Office location:   14 Industrial Circle, Box 8, Mifflintown, PA 17059


About Children and Youth Services

Directions to Agency Office: From the traffic light in Mifflintown, PA, travel north (in the direction of McAlisterville) on Route 35 approximately 1.9 miles to the first traffic light. Turn right onto Industrial Park Road. Travel 0.2 mile and turn right onto Industrial Circle Road. Travel 0.2 mile to the Keystone Suites (blue sign) building on the right side of the road. Turn into the parking lot, the Children and Youth office is located in the Keystone Suites building. The entrance to the agency office is located behind the large green oil tank to the left of the main entrance to the building. There is a sign beside the entrance to agency office which reads Juniata County Children and Youth Social Services Agency.

Purpose

The purpose of the Children and Youth Social Services Agency is to provide child welfare services designed to keep children in their own homes, prevent neglect, abuse and exploitation, help overcome problems that result in dependency, neglect, and delinquency, and provide adequate substitute care in foster family homes and child caring institutions for any child in need of care due to abuse or neglect. Services are available to children birth to 18 years of age who reside in Juniata County. The Agency’s mission is to promote and protect the health and welfare of children with the focus of keeping families together through protective services. When placement does occur, the goal is to reconnect and reunify the child with the family as effectively and timely as possible.

Intake/Referral Services

Child Protective Services (CPS)

This is the investigation of all reports of child abuse. Once a referral is received a caseworker must insure the safety of the child immediately and make contact within 24 hours. Any concerned citizen may make referrals. Those persons who come into contact with children in the course of their profession are mandated by law to report suspected child abuse.

Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect

Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Service Law defines abuse as non-accidental serious physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or exploitation, or serious physical neglect caused by the acts of omission of the parent or caregiver.

Physical Abuse
Any recent act or failure to act by a perpetrator that causes non-accidental serious physical injury to a child under 18 years of age.

Serious physical injury is an injury that causes a child severe pain or significantly impairs a child’s physical functioning, either temporarily or permanently.

Emotional Abuse
An act or failure to act by a perpetrator that causes non-accidental serious mental injury to a child under 18 years of age.Serious mental injury is a psychological condition, as diagnosed by a physician or licensed psychologist, including the refusal of appropriated treatment that renders a child chronically and severely anxious, agitated, depressed, socially withdrawn, psychotic, or in reasonable fear that the child’s life or safety is threatened, or seriously interferes with a child’s ability to accomplish age-appropriate developmental and social tasks.

Sexual Abuse or Exploitation
An act or failure to act by a perpetrator that causes sexual abuse or exploitation of a child under 18 years of age.Sexual abuse or exploitation is the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of a child to engage in or assist any other person to engage in any sexually explicit conduct or any simulation of any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction, including photographing, videotaping, computer depicting, or filming, of any sexually explicit conduct or the rape, sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, molestation, incest, indecent exposure, prostitution, statutory sexual assault, or other form of sexual exploitation of children.

Serious Physical Neglect
Serious physical neglect by a perpetrator constituting prolonged or repeated lack of supervision or the failure to provide the essentials of life, including adequate medical care, which endangers a child’s life or development or impairs the child’s functioning.
Imminent Risk
Any recent act, failure to act, or series of such acts or failures to act by a perpetrator, which creates an imminent risk of serious physical injury to or sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child under 18 years of age.To substantiate imminent risk of serious physical injury or sexual abuse or exploitation, a specific act or failure to act must be documented. The act or failure to act must result in risk of abuse, i.e., be supported by substantial evidence, that serious physical injury or sexual abuse or exploitation would have occurred.

Reporting Child Abuse

If you think a child has been abused, contact CHILDLINE at 800-932-0313. Childline is Pennsylvania’s toll-free number for reporting suspected child abuse. All reports are confidential and referred for investigation.

When making a report of suspected child abuse and/or neglect it is helpful to have as much of the following information as possible.

  1. Name of child
  2. Age or approximate age of child
  3. Address and telephone number of the child’s family
  4. Name of the suspected child abuser
  5. Address and telephone number of the suspected child abuser
  6. Suspected abuser’s relationship to child
  7. Description of the suspected injury to the child
  8. When and where the incident took place
  9. Any concern for the child’s immediate safety
  10. Current location of the child
  11. Your relationship to the child and how you became aware of the incident

Mandated Reporters

Mandated reporters are required by law to report suspected child abuse immediately to Pennsylvania’s Childline based on their medical or professional training or other experience. They must also make a written follow up report to the investigating County Children and Youth Agency within 48 hours.

Mandated reporters include: doctors, nurses, other hospital personnel, dentists, psychiatrists, psychologists, health department personnel, police officers, sheriffs, county detectives, court officials, social services workers, child care workers, clergy, teachers, principals, school nurses, school counselors, school administration, and anyone who as part of his or her job has contact with children.

General Protective Services (GPS)

This is the investigation/assessment of all referrals to the agency that do not reach the criteria of a CPS report. Examples of such referrals are truancy, lack of supervision, and homes with severe health and safety concerns.

Ongoing Services

Once an investigation/assessment is completed and it is determined the family would benefit from further supportive services, a Family Service Plan is developed with the caseworker and the family which identifies changes that need to be made and the services that will help produce these changes. The goal of this service is to provide supportive casework to the family in order to assure a safe environment for the child. Whenever possible, the goal is to keep the family together. This goal is achieved by providing a variety of services individualized to meet the family’s need. Services utilized include counseling, family therapy, budget counseling, marital counseling, individual counseling, parenting education, and group counseling.

Emergency Services

The Agency has staff on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to respond to immediate emergencies and high-risk situations of child abuse or neglect. The Emergency Services worker will assess the child abuse referral and determine whether the child is safe remaining in the home or is in need of placement to assure safety. The Emergency Services worker can be contacted by telephoning 717-436-7770.

Placement Services

Placement Services are provided to a child when it is determined by the Court that he/she cannot safely remain at home. These children are removed from their families either voluntarily or involuntarily for a variety of reasons. Placement of a child is extremely traumatic and, therefore, is used only when the child’s safety cannot be otherwise assured and when there are no appropriate relatives available to provide temporary care. A child may be placed in a foster home, group home, residential treatment center or shelter care facility. When looking for an out-of-home placement for a child, the agency must determine which type of placement is the least restrictive to the child, yet able to meet the child’s needs.

After placement, the Agency’s goal is permanent planning for the child. This involves either a return to the natural family, adoption, independent living, etc. Together with the natural family, the Agency sets goals for the family to attain before the child can be returned. A Family Service Plan and Permanency Plan are developed by the parents, child and caseworker, documenting the need for an out of home placement and conditions which must be changed before a child may be returned to their natural family. The Juvenile Court reviews the family’s progress towards achieving these goals at least every six months or sooner if requested. Involuntary termination of parental rights is considered if a family is unable or unwilling to make the changes necessary for the return of the child, and it is in the child’s best interest. This could result in the Orphan’s Court releasing the child for adoption.

Family Group Conferencing (FGC)

A Family Group Conference is a program that provides the opportunity for families to participate in a solution that assures the safety of children and other members of the family. FGC is a meeting that brings together family members, friends and family support workers to discuss concerns and share information. During the FGC, the family may or may not have time alone, with or without service providers in the room, to create a plan of action that provides safety, protection, and stability for the children in the family. The purpose of a FGC is to help develop partnerships among families, their friends, community members, and public officials to build on a family’s strengths and to create a safe family life for children.

A family may be asked to participate in Family Group Conferencing by the Children and Youth caseworker. It is also possible that the Court may recommend or order a family to try this process.

Family Group Conferencing has proven to be an effective tool in promoting and protecting the health and welfare of children.