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COVID-19 or Novel Coronavirus Announcements:
Message from Director:
Parents, Community Members, and other Stakeholders,
The situation with this virus pandemic has forced us to respond to unprecedented situations when it comes to our work with children, youth, and families. It is my duty to assure that we will continue to assess the safety of the county’s over 40,000 children despite any outside force. Additionally, we will continue to respond to any threats to safety as permitted by the Child Protective Services Act. At this point, we are receiving guidance from our governing bodies, The Butler County Board of Commissioners, the state Office of Children, Youth, and Families, and the local Court of Common Pleas on how to respond to various concerns generated by this virus. I will make sure to inform the public through this website of anything that may be a change to our typical practice as a result. It is my hope that this will soon pass and we can go back to having no complications to our protection of children, and services to families.
Below, I have information on what I believe will be some of the most important topics regarding this as they have come up. Most importantly, we are trying to keep our staff as healthy as possible so that we can continue to serve, as we should. If there is any communication that you can have with us by phone or email instead of visiting in person, please do. Additionally, read the section on making reports. We have very fast and efficient ways that you can report that do not involve traveling to downtown Butler. If you have any questions or issues regarding this, please feel free to email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 724-284-5156.
Sincerely and appreciatively,
Charles L. Johns, Director
Parental Visitation with Children Who Are In Our Custody:
It is the agency’s wish for your family to continue visiting your child or children during this very hard to predict virus and pandemic. We are asking that you contact your visitation provider or assigned caseworker if you have any questions regarding your visitation.
During this time, it is possible to be offered more phone or video visits. We would ask that you take advantage of that.
Also, you may need to go to a facility for visitation instead of being in your home or community. We will make sure that our providers do the best they can for you in making this as pleasant as possible for you and your children. When this is over, we will do whatever we can to make up any missed visitation due to illness or risk of illness.
It is not the agency’s wish to not provide you this visitation. We regret that this has happened and has impacted you and your children. We will continue to help you as much as we can during this time.
If you are receiving in home services:
In home service providers may be making changes to their work with you. They may do this by increasing phone calls to you and lowering their amount of visits to your home in an attempt to reduce illness spreading. Please speak with your in home service provider or Caseworker if this applies to you.
When a Butler County Children and Youth Agency Caseworker comes to your Home:
During the time in which this virus is affecting our regular approaches to home visits, we want to let you know that some of our typical practices may be different. If the reason for the visit allows, we may visit your home and only speak with you or children on the porch or an outside environment. We may also view children through windows if possible and conduct the remainder of the visit through a phone call. Some reasons for home visits will still require us to enter your home. If that needs to occur, we will most likely be wearing masks and gloves. Please do not be offended by this, it is meant to protect you and our workers from the possibility of spreading the virus. Visits are still required at this time to ensure the safety of children.Contacting Your Caseworker:Recently the Butler County Children and Youth Agency took steps to reduce the volume of workers passing through the offices at the Butler County Government Center Annex. Because of this, you may not be able to contact your assigned caseworker, or there may be some delays in doing so. At this time, you may still contact 724-284-5156 and ask to speak with your Caseworker. If the worker is not available, please understand that we will make sure that you are able to speak with another worker or Supervisor. Please leave messages on voicemail and they will be returned promptly, if not, please call back and ask to speak with a supervisor.Additionally you may want to try emailing your Caseworker or Supervisor. Their email addresses can be found in the staff directory section of this webpage.
During this time routine drug testing (announced drug tests that occur at least once a week) may not happen at the frequency that they typically do so that the close contact between individuals is minimized. Each of our service providers may have different policies in response to this. Please speak with your caseworker if you have questions on this topic. If a test needs to be given you based on your child’s safety an agency Caseworker will do the test randomly if it is not otherwise done. Much like with visitation we will offer this as appropriately as possible during this time.
The Butler County Children and Youth Agency is attempting to take all appropriate steps to protect the community and our staff. At this time, we are limiting the amount and types of in person, face-to-face, walk-in reports received by the agency. If you need to make a report of child abuse or neglect you may do so in the following, safe, effective and convenient ways:
As a response to this virus, Pennsylvania Department of Children, Youth, and Families is recommending that reports be made online. That information and link is below:
You can make an electronic report to Childline by visiting the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Portal page here: Pennsylvania Child Welfare Portal page
You can also make a report by Telephone:
Anyone can report suspected child abuse or neglect by calling:
For More Information
You can read more about child abuse laws and access the full Child Protective Services Law at the Keep Kids Safe website.
Please understand that if you must speak to a caseworker in person, your wait times may be longer than expected and that the discussion may be conducted in the open area of the agency lobby where there is not a guarantee of privacy.
According to the Child Protective Services Law, "child abuse" means intentionally, knowingly or recklessly:
Child abuse also includes certain acts in which the act itself constitutes abuse without any resulting injury or condition. These recent acts include any of:
There are many factors to consider when it comes to child neglect. For example, the Agency considers things like:
More serious neglect can:
In Pennsylvania, this serious physical neglect is considered a form of child abuse (for more information review the frequently asked question "What is child abuse?").
Serious physical neglect includes a repeated, prolonged or egregious failure to supervise a child in a manner that is appropriate considering the child's age, development, or functioning, and the failure to provide the essentials of life, including food, shelter, or medical care.
You can also make an electronic report to Childline by visiting the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Portal page.
No. Butler County Children and Youth Services (CYS) does not conduct private custody proceedings, nor does the Agency conduct investigations for the purpose of helping one parent gain an advantage over the other parent in custody court.
The primary goal of CYS, per the Child Protective Services Laws (CPSL), is to help keep children safe in their home of origin whenever possible.
No. Not all referrals rise to the level of potential child abuse or neglect. Every referral is evaluated on its own merit.
If you do make a referral, please provide as much detail as possible. Most importantly, please provide:
We need to know where to send a caseworker and how to make contact with a child/family.
No. Once a person attains the age of 18, they are considered an adult, regardless of functioning level.
There are a few rare circumstances where Children and Youth Services (CYS) continues to provide services for a person over 18, but those only apply to youth who turn 18 while in CYS custody and agree to remain in custody and under the supervision of the court, or for young adults who were previously in CYS custody, and are in need of services.
Ideally, families are not in need of our services. Oftentimes, people just need to be pointed in the right direction to get help. We can provide contact information to a number of resources that do not require a Children and Youth Services (CYS) investigation or an open CYS case.
In the event that a family does need CYS services, we try to work voluntarily with a family, and can offer:
There are times we need to seek court intervention before providing services, which may include out of home placement.