POCONO MOUNTAINS, Pa., June 15, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Ted Dallas today kicked-off the 24th Annual Pennsylvania Permanency Conference to be held from June 15 through 17 at Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in the Pocono Mountains.
"We have had 40,000 adoptions since our Statewide Adoption Permanency Network (SWAN) began in 1992, with 1,797 children in 2015," said Dallas. "Although we should be proud of our accomplishments, there is still work to be done. This conference brings together Pennsylvanians to continue our efforts of finding more ways to reunite them with their families or find permanent connections."
There are approximately 15,000 Pennsylvania children in foster care on any given day and 2,500 looking to be adopted.
The three-day event is attended by child welfare professionals, current and prospective foster or adoptive families, kinship care providers and others with a vested interest in child welfare and permanency. The conference is designed to:
- train participants to prepare children and their families on their journey through the child welfare system towards permanency;
- educate and support all those involved in finding permanent homes for Pennsylvania's foster children; and
- provide an opportunity for prospective families to be matched with children.
To learn more go to www.adoptpakids.org, or call 1-800-585-SWAN. Follow SWAN on Facebook at "Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network".
This year's conference theme is "Bravery, Courage, Triumph." Attendees are encouraged to work together to find innovative ways to help participants through the adoption process. The conference also includes an awards ceremony recognizing those who help children and youth achieve permanent connections.
This year's award winners include:
Permanent Family Recognition Award
Families selected have provided legalized permanency for a child or children in the child welfare system:
- William and Jacquelyn Baily, Montgomery County
- Alan and Sandra Donchez, Lehigh County
- Analeisa Ecker, Allegheny County
- Jeannette Liddick, Mifflin County
- Jeffrey and Jennifer Steele, Northampton County
- Tome and Rene Williams, McKean County
The organization selected demonstrates a significant charitable commitment that promotes the permanency of children in foster care:
- Brandon's Forever Homes
Permanency Teamwork Recognition
Teams selected exemplify a collaborative effort to promote the permanency of children with special needs:
- Rhonda Jewart, Butler County Children and Youth Services
- Brenda Dunmyre, Family Pathways
- Steve & Lisa Totleben and daughter Kayla, Erie, PA
- Ellen Rogan, Catholic Charities Counseling and Adoption Services – Erie
Permanency Advocate Recognition
This award recognizes a dynamic individual who demonstrates a commitment to building cooperative relationships to expedite the permanency process:
- Marleni Feinstein, Susquehanna Valley CASA – Voices for Children
Independent Living Professional Recognition
The individual selected for this award has demonstrated that they have helped youth transition into becoming successful contributing members of society:
- Paul Flinchbaugh, Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.
Permanency Professional Recognition
Individuals selected to receive this award are permanency professionals working in a public or private child welfare agency:
- Currin Hanes-Yoder, Dauphin County Social Services for Children and Youth
Youth Advocate Recognition
- Constance Krebs-Iannetta, Montgomery County
MEDIA CONTACT: Rachel Kostelac, 717-425-7606
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Human Services