Pa. agency renamed to help end stigma

    Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare is making its name-change official. Employees of the newly christened Department of Human Services applauded as they unveiled literal window dressing displaying the new moniker in Harrisburg.

    “Words matter,” said Josh Stranix, a Schuylkill County resident and an advocate for those with intellectual disabilities. “It’s time for us to recognize the important work of this department and the people it serves.”

    Supporters of a years-long campaign to drop “welfare” from the agency’s name said it was no longer an accurate descriptor of a department that offers a range of services.

    “It’s taken a long time for us all to get here and we faced much opposition along the way,” said state Rep. Tom Murt, R-Montgomery, who sponsored the name-change legislation. “What we’re seeing here today is our goal of removing the stigma attached to the Department of Public Welfare being realized.”

    The legislation was signed into law in September. It also requires the newly-christened DHS and partnering businesses to advertise a fraud tip line.

    The “Public Welfare” label hasn’t been scrubbed completely from agency materials and signs. The transition will be gradual to minimize costs.

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