Articles, page 1

  • Celebrating Families and Commitments to Connection

    Having just wrapped up the holiday season, we are reminded it is a time for families to come together in celebration and connection. As a permanency network, we know that families come in all shapes and sizes and are built in an infinite number of ways. At last summer’s annual Pennsylvania Permanency Conference, we celebrated three families, each of which had a unique kinship or birth family connection..

    Posted on January 10th, 2024
  • The Power of Saying Yes: How one Woman Re-defined Foster Care for Older Youth

    Valerie Crabbe remembers having a dream to adopt a little girl since she was just a little girl herself. Fast forward to the age of 38 when a recruitment flyer for foster parents caught her attention in the grocery store. 

    Posted on December 13th, 2023
  • It Takes a Village…or One Collaborative Team

    United in its vision for permanency, a seven-person team was honored for its collaborative efforts in helping provide stability to a child in foster care at the June 2023 Annual Pennsylvania Permanency Conference. 

    Posted on December 13th, 2023
  • Empowering Youth and Finding Connections: National Adoption Month 2023

    November has been a month of adoption recognition for nearly 40 years, beginning with a national adoption week recognition in 1984. Led by the Children’s Bureau, the theme for this year’s campaign is “Empowering Youth: Finding Points of Connection.” which focuses on giving space for youth to have agency and a say in the decisions that impact their lives, as well as embracing and affirming their racial and cultural identities as factors to ...

    Posted on November 7th, 2023
  • SWAN Prime Contractor Names New Leadership

    Over the past few months, a few individuals have been named to new management positions. Voce is pleased to announce that Tammy Hendrix, DSW, MSW, LCSW is now serving as the SWAN program administrator; Tinnesha English, MSW is now serving as the SWAN technical assistance program director; Kelly Weston is now serving as the RTA division manager for the SWAN central region; and Robert Brockman is now serving as the PAE division manager.

    Tammy Hendrix ...

    Posted on November 6th, 2023
  • Fostering a Family Engagement Philosophy

    Dubbed “one of the most amazing families,” Anthony and Jessica Johnston are setting the gold standard for what it means to be a foster and adoptive family. The couple was awarded a Permanent Family Recognition award at the 2023 Pennsylvania Permanency Conference for their outstanding record in providing quality care to children and families. 

    Posted on November 6th, 2023
  • Bulletin Highlights Rate Changes for 2023-24

    On June 28, 2023, the Office of Children Youth and Families, Department of Human Services released  Bulletin #3350-23-01 - SWAN Rates and Programmatic Changes, which modified unit of service payment rates. The programmatic changes outlined in previous SWAN Unit of Service Payment Rates and Programmatic Changes bulletins remain in effect. SWAN affiliate agencies were notified by the SWAN prime contractor on the same day.

    Posted on August 7th, 2023
  • June Events Celebrate Dedication, Gird Continued Work

    The network gathered in Northeast Pennsylvania for two back-to-back events in June—the SWAN/IL Summer Statewide Meeting (SSW) and the 31st Pennsylvania Permanency Conference—where celebrations and affirmations took center stage. Reading’s own, Dr. Veirdra Jackson, kicked off the week with her SSW keynote, which spoke to every person’s want and need to belong.

    Posted on August 7th, 2023
  • Spring Quarterly Meetings Detail Family Matching Service

    Members of the network gathered around the state at six spring Quarterly Meetings held regionally throughout April. The morning presentation, Exploring the SWAN Family Matching Unit of Service, was presented by technical assistance staff in each of the regions.

    Posted on May 24th, 2023
  • Equine-Assisted Therapy Helps Children in Foster Care Overcome Trauma

    One of the side benefits of sharing SWAN with the community each year at the Pennsylvania Farm Show is reconnecting with old friends in the network. This past January, foster mom and licensed clinical therapist Marcy Tocker stopped by to chat. Marcy is the founder of Grey Muzzle Manor, a senior animal rescue and hospice center offering animal-assisted therapy and a special place created by Marcy where everyone would feel they matter, belong, and are noticed. 

    Posted on May 24th, 2023
  • New SWAN Program Administrator Embodies Permanency Advocacy

    Tammy Hendrix, DSW, MSW, LCSW has been named the next SWAN program administrator, succeeding Judi Damiano, who retired February 10, 2023. Tammy has served the SWAN prime contractor in various technical assistance roles since 2004 and has worked in the network since 1994. 

    Posted on April 4th, 2023
  • Speaking through Advocacy and Impact: Recognizing Michelle

    Michelle Matthews doesn’t really like to talk about herself; however, her work and impact as the social work supervisor in foster care for Bethany Christian Services of Western PA tells her story for her. Michelle is a champion for both resource families and first families.

    Posted on April 4th, 2023
  • SWAN Winter Statewide Meeting Featured Tools, Connection

    More than 400 members of the network gathered at the Penn Stater Conference Center on January 25th and 26th for valuable training, in-person networking, and a centralized matching event. The SWAN Winter Statewide Meeting returned to in-person for the first time since 2019 after being held virtually for two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Posted on February 17th, 2023
  • SWAN Program Administrator Judi Damiano Retires

    SWAN Program Administrator Judi Damiano has retired after five years overseeing SWAN programs and services and more than twenty years with the SWAN prime contractor. Judi stepped down from her role and stepped into a well-deserved retirement effective February 10, 2023.

    Posted on February 17th, 2023
  • Pennsylvania Farm Show Offers Both Reunion and Resources

    When Jennifer Casner-Hockenberry, project manager for the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange (PAE), reflected on the 2023 Pennsylvania Farm Show, her most lasting impression was connecting with both individuals interested in adoption as well as families who formed through adoption.

    Posted on February 17th, 2023
  • PRT Success Celebrated in South Central PA

    Permanency Round Table meetings are characterized by an urgent and relentless pursuit of legal permanency with the focus of helping youth find a permanent home. Permanency stakeholders combine optimism, strengths–based solutions and a fresh open-minded approach to help youth in out-of-home care secure legal permanency.

    Posted on December 8th, 2022
  • Youth-Centered Matching Events: Letting Youth Lead

    There’s a mantra often spoken by child welfare professionals when recruiting families for youth in foster care. It goes by several phrases such as “give the child a voice” or “honor the youth’s wishes.” Older youth want AND need to exercise control over their lives, especially when it comes to choosing a family.

    Posted on December 8th, 2022
  • Needle in a Haystack: Finding the Right Family

    Older Child Matching Initiative (OCMI) recruiter Mandy Somerville likes to refer to the Barnes/Axon family as the “needle.” In her position, she is assigned youth who need permanency but are especially hard to match with families due to mental or physical health issues, length of time in foster care, the youth giving up hope, or a combination of challenges. Mandy related that finding the right family for a child can be like “finding a needle in a haystack.” When it happens, it is special.

    Posted on December 8th, 2022
  • National Adoption Month: Small Steps Lead to Great Outcomes

    For 38 years, November has been recognized as National Adoption Month—a time to increase awareness of adoption issues, bring attention to the need for adoptive families for teens in the foster care system, and recognize the value of engaging youth. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf also issued a proclamation recognizing November as Adoption Awareness Month in the Commonwealth.

    Posted on November 4th, 2022
  • The Art of Selflessness

    We’ve all heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” For Pennsylvania’s children and youth in foster care, these words take on greater significance when it comes to finding permanency. Every day, these children and youth are navigating trauma, a multitude of changes, uncertainty, education, relationships, and much more. Simultaneously, dedicated permanency workers are writing strengths-based narratives for them, collaborating with counties on information sharing processes, and employing a variety of recruitment strategies to match them with permanent families.

    Posted on September 26th, 2022