Articles, page 1

  • 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
  • Youth Advocate Award Winner Raises the Bar

    Julia Mueller is a “wonder woman in the making,” according to her nominee, Shayla Jones. The recipient of the 2022 Youth Advocate Recognition award, Julia is a glowing example of a young woman turning lemons into lemonade. As an alumnus of the foster care system, Julia’s firsthand experiences in care, combined with her persistent and focused temperament, have given her an influential voice on the Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board.

    Posted on September 26th, 2022
  • Adoptive Families Celebrated at Annual Picnic

    An annual tradition of the Westmoreland County Children’s Bureau (WCCB) is the Adoption Celebration Picnic at Idlewild & SoakZone in Ligonier, PA. Each year, the past 12-months’ adoptees and their adoptive families are invited to attend the picnic lunch and spend the day at the park. With Covid-19 concerns looming large in 2020 and 2021, this year it was good to be back in-person!

    Posted on August 30th, 2022
  • Professionals Honored with Teamwork Award Exemplify Perseverance, Support and Unity

    Standing on stage in a packed banquet hall at the 2022 Pennsylvania Permanency Conference’s recognition banquet, six child welfare professionals received this year’s Permanency Teamwork Award. The individuals honored were Tiffany Wettstein, Christine Walter, Megan Maier, Charlotte Kiker and Julia Sullender. These individuals represent a collective powerhouse, exemplifying a collaborative team who promoted permanency for a remarkable 20-year-old named Prince.

    Posted on August 30th, 2022
  • New SWAN Unit of Service: Family Matching

    The prime contractor is pleased to announce the release of the first new SWAN unit of service in 20 years: Family Matching. This service is available to the affiliates for referral as of July 1, 2022.

    Family Matching focuses on engaging potential resource families who are waiting to be matched and developing their capacity to provide successful permanency. The Family Matching unit includes ongoing efforts in these areas as well as activities to identify a ...

    Posted on August 8th, 2022
  • SWAN Celebrates 30th Anniversary at June Events

    There’s a saying, “When we’re together, everything falls into place.” This could easily define the 2022 SWAN/IL Summer Statewide Meeting (SSW) and Pennsylvania Permanency Conference, which were held in person for the first time since 2019. 

    Posted on August 8th, 2022
  • New Family-Friendly Resource to Promote Post-permanency Services

    SWAN has been providing Post-permanency supports to families for over two decades. These services, which include case advocacy, respite and support groups, are available free of charge to Pennsylvania families formed through adoption, formalized kinship or permanent legal custodianship.

    With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other societal struggles, many Pennsylvania families are experiencing additional stress. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services/Office of Children, Youth and Families (DHS/OCTF) wants eligible families to know SWAN ...

    Posted on March 29th, 2022
  • Meet Rachel Kuhr: Permanency Scholar, Mentor and Advocate

    As we look forward to this summer’s Pennsylvania Permanency Conference, we invite you to get to know 2021’s Permanency Professional Award recipient, Rachel Kuhr. If you’ve ever been to a SWAN conference, statewide meeting, or central region quarterly meeting, you know Rachel. If she’s not sharing her knowledge as a presenter, she is listening intently – usually while crocheting – and asking all the right questions to achieve clarity and improve service delivery for children in out-of-home care.

    Posted on March 28th, 2022
  • SWAN/IL Winter Statewide Meeting Kicks Off 2022

    The 2022 SWAN/IL Winter Statewide Meeting was held January 26-27. Originally planned to be both an in-person and virtual event, the prime contractor and OCYF decided to pivot the event to be virtual as a safety precaution during the recent Omicron surge of COVID-19.

    The meeting opened in usual form with morning updates from OCYF, IL, and the prime contract. These updates can be found online in the 2022 SWAN/IL Winter Administrative Updates ...

    Posted on February 15th, 2022
  • Permanency Team Honored for their Dedication to a Special Three-Year-Old Boy

    Three-year-old Angel has had a unique journey to permanency. Medical needs, distant placements, and a global pandemic created some challenges for his team to solve. However, Heather Miller, Christina Cross, and Barbara Black were up to the task. These women worked tirelessly, along with the support of numerous other team members, to help Angel find his home—a place where he could have his first birthday and Christmas celebrations in a true family setting. They ...

    Posted on January 14th, 2022
  • Meet the Marshalls: Playing for Keeps

    When it comes to caring for older youth, Dana and Bill Marshall “play for keeps.” Whether permanency comes in the form of formal adoption or custody through a more informal arrangement, the Marshalls consider every youth who has entered their home to be family. Older Child Matching Initiative (OCMI) Recruiter, Marian Kolcum, witnessed their love and dedication first-hand through the family’s adoption experience with their son, Dean. Marian nominated the family ...

    Posted on January 13th, 2022
  • Governor Wolf Proclaims November Adoption Awareness Month

    Governor Wolf’s November 2021 Adoption Awareness Month proclamation encouraged “citizens across the commonwealth to recognize the importance of adoption and make every effort to ensure that all children in Pennsylvania have a safe, loving place to call home.”

    Posted on November 22nd, 2021
  • Network Comes Together at Fall Quarterly Meetings

    For the first time since the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020, the SWAN/IL Quarterly Meetings took place in-person throughout regions of the Commonwealth, infusing a spirit of connectedness for which the network is often characterized. As Carrie Keiser, Director, Division of Programs, Office of Children, Youth and Families declared in her opening remarks, “It is SO good to be back together!”

    More than 850 attendees gathered at six regional locations and online for ...

    Posted on November 17th, 2021
  • Fall Administrative Updates Highlighted at Fall Quarterly Meetings

    The Administrative Updates, produced four times per year in conjunction with SWAN/IL regional and statewide meetings, were recently distributed to those individuals registered to attend one of the SWAN/IL Fall Quarterly Meetings. The publication contains important and timely information on current activities and practices, trainings, workgroup efforts, resources available, outcomes, events and reminders. Take a moment to catch up with current news from DHS/OCYF, the prime contractor and the IL program and ...

    Posted on November 3rd, 2021
  • Giving Back, Former Recipient Style

    When you hear that someone has been involved with fundraising for a foster care agency for the past six years, you may think they are a former foster youth who is now in a position to give back to those who helped them in the past. Well, Cayden Roth, who was honored with SWAN’s 2021 Youth Advocate award, is a former foster youth, but this young man ...

    Posted on November 3rd, 2021
  • The Langsdorfs: A Family Formed by Fate

    One summer morning at the Renzie Park Farmers Market in McKeesport, Heather and David Langsdorf noticed an information booth for Auberle, a faith-based social services agency that was recruiting foster parents. Heather always wanted to be a foster parent, so they immediately went over to the booth to learn more. Without hesitating, Heather and David decided to apply to be foster parents and were certified in Fall 2018. They ...

    Posted on November 3rd, 2021
  • Honoring Permanency: The Fritz Family

    Each summer, the Pennsylvania Permanency Conference recognizes permanent families who inspire hope, challenge barriers, and share stories of commitment and love. Helen and Andy Fritz are one of the amazing families honored at the 2021 conference. The couple was nominated by Katie Kalp of Children’s Home of York, who noted that Helen and Andy support the best interests of each child by remaining open to safe and healthy ...

    Posted on November 2nd, 2021
  • Rates Changes and New Unit of Service Announced at 2021 SWAN Summer Statewide Meeting

    In her opening remarks to the network at the 2021 SWAN Summer Statewide Meeting, Carrie Keiser, Director, Division of Programs, Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF), highlighted adjustments to payment rates for SWAN units of services for service referrals made during the state fiscal year 2021-2022. The payment rates are defined in OCYF Bulletin 3350-21-02, released to the network on June 30, and archived in the SWAN Permanency Toolkit ...

    Posted on August 16th, 2021
  • A Dream Come True

    Adoptee Dalton Bacco’s dream to provide children in foster care with opportunities to spend valuable time with caring individuals was brought to life by his parents, Frank and Kerri Bacco. The Baccos founded the Living the Dream Fund after Dalton’s sudden and tragic passing in 2017 as a way to honor Dalton’s life and carry on his spirit of generosity. The Fund was recently recognized with ...

    Posted on August 16th, 2021