Philly Department of Human Services faulted over subcontracting

Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services has been subcontracting some work as part of a multiyear overhaul to improve outcomes for children.

But the change is not garnering uniformly positive reviews.

Department of Human Services Commissioner Vanessa Garrett Harley testified last week at a City Council hearing that she’s working hard with the community umbrella agency, or CUA model as it’s called, but not every contractor is completely up to speed.

“We will make sure that no community is at risk for receiving services, so, to the extent that we have to undergird the CUA, we will,” Harley said. “There may be one or two that are underperforming at a level that is of much more concern to me than others, and we are trying to address that.”

But one critic said the new system isn’t working, and the outsourced social workers aren’t making the right recommendations for the proper care of children.

“The consequences of those recommendations and what can occur has, and will, result of some type of harm to a child,” said Donella Shaffer of the Defender Association of Philadelphia.

So far, no bill has been introduced to address the situation.

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