SUNBURY – Northumberland County has been awarded additional resources from the state for its work supporting abused and neglected children. Northumberland County Children and Youth has been selected as one of three counties to participate in the Pennsylvania State Roundtable’s Family Engagement Initiative. The other counties involved are Dauphin and Philadelphia counties.
The focus of the initiative is to increase family involvement, reduce trauma to children and reduce the time children are separated from their loved ones. Administrator Katrina Gownley says this was also possible through the county creating preventative services, “We do family finding, we started a truancy program, family treatment court, our foster care department is working toward reunification quicker, we have increased court times, and we had over 56 adoptions this past year.”
The county also reduced its number of children in care from 267 to 167 this past year. Through the initiative, the state will give the county specialized resources, including paying for training from international experts to enhance the way children in need are served. Gownley says this state funding came at a good time, “We don’t have a lot of money left in our budget because of the high numbers of kids that we had in care for years. So this is a really great thing for the county because we don’t have to pay for it.”
Factors considered in the selection process included strong administrative collaboration between the court and children welfare agencies. Strong judicial and agency leadership, current family engagement practices, and data reviews were factors also considered.