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What can the SWAN Helpline do for you?

By Jan Scherer, SWAN Helpline Supervisor

“This is the SWAN Helpline. How may I help you?” This is a familiar opening to the phone conversations that take place each weekday between SWAN Helpline technical specialists and individuals calling to learn more about beginning or continuing with the process to become a permanency resource for children and youth in the Pennsylvania child welfare system. For anyone who has seen the awareness campaign, #MeetTheKids, the phone number displayed in the commercials directs callers to the SWAN Helpline as their first point of contact for potential adoptive and foster families.

The SWAN Helpline is an outreach service for families. Staffed by technical specialists who answer calls and emails, the SWAN Helpline supports families throughout the permanency process, provides information, and makes referrals to other agencies. Helpline staff talk with families about the requirements and differences in the programs, as well as how to get started.  The staff also send families brochures and agency lists to help them take the first step forward in working with an adoption agency that’s part of the SWAN network. 

The SWAN Helpline also follows up with all families who call the Helpline to support them throughout their process.  This proactive form of support and tracking ensures families are moving forward in the process and that their questions and concerns are addressed. In addition, the Helpline monitors the SWAN Facebook page, responding to comments and questions on posts with contact information for the Helpline. Families who are ready to be matched with a child receive monthly emails (and phone calls at times) with upcoming matching event information, which is another way the SWAN Helpline keeps families engaged with the permanency process. 

This is a taste of the services provided to families interested in adoption. The SWAN Helpline also plays a critical role in the SWAN Connect process discussed here and is the first point of contact for adoptive families self-referring for post-permanency services.

The SWAN Helpline is a primary source of support as well as information and referral to families as they journey through the permanency process. The SWAN Helpline can be reached Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at 1-800-585-SWAN (7926) and by email at swanhelpline@diakon-swan.org.

Jan Scherer is the SWAN Helpline supervisor and has been employed at Helpline for 25 years.  She is a graduate of Penn State University. Jan has more than 35 years of experience in human services, including working as a behavioral specialist with individuals experiencing head injury and as the associate director of residential services for individuals with mental health and intellectual disability issues in Dauphin County.


Published: March 1, 2024

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adoption adoptive event foster permanency SWAN technical youth

Article Links

  1. Jan Scherer
  2. SWAN Helpline
  3. discussed here
  4. post-permanency services
  5. swanhelpline@diakon-swan.org