Tabor Children’s Services hosts forum to pinpoint Germantown’s specific needs

Tabor Children’s Services held a community forum and networking event with several Germantown organizations that focus on child and family welfare issues on Wednesday night.

“Today, we hope to introduce the community to Tabor Services, what we do, our history and help everybody get a better idea of the plan to move forward,” said Robert Haussmann, acting executive director.

Why they were there

It was part of an effort to strengthen the Northwest Philadelphia community while working with the city’s Department of Human Services (DHS) to launch the “Improving Outcomes for Children Initiative and Community Umbrella Agency.”

Through that shift, child-welfare issues are ideally solved in a localized effort to ensure that children and families get services in their specific community.

DHS has drawn up new geographic regions for Philadelphia based on the city’s police districts to tailor child welfare needs to specific communities.

“As you may be aware, the child welfare landscape is set to change dramatically,” Haussmann told the crowd. “Sadly, it took the tragic death of Danieal Kelly to bring about this change, however, as you will see shortly, is a very positive one.

“Described by DHS, ‘The Improving Outcomes for Children’ is expected to foster stronger partnerships at the neighborhood level, facilitate the development of culturally relevant resources and services within the community and improve quality functions within DHS.'”

He noted that the shift enables the community to have a say in what services are needed and provided.

“It’s a real exciting [shift] that the community can get involved, ask for specific services, really define the landscape. We hope to partner with the community to do that,” he said.

Introductions

Amanda Pchelka, Tabor’s education training and community liaison, introduced the panel of Tabor staff members who briefly discussed various services offered.

Carla Wilson discussed the foster-care system.

Staci Morgan talked about adoption and permanency for children.

Norm Knox provided information on the “aging out independence” program and community living arrangement for young adults who are aging out of the child welfare system, as some deal with mental-health issues. In that area, Tabor assists with setting goals for school and job placement.

Dawn Potalivo discussed supervised independent living and parenting classes offered through Tabor.

Dana Wallace talked about in-home protective services and how Tabor works with families to provide safe environments for children, while helping to keep families together.

Localizing services

Attendees broke into four small groups to talk, brainstorm and compile a list of needs for Germantown.

One group prioritized that trauma related services was the most identified need for the Germantown community.

Another group was led by Tyree Slappy, who talked about his experiences growing up in the foster-care system.

“The system was kinda crappy,” Slappy told the group. “Not all of us are bad. Yes, I was a jerk, but you can grow up to be a contributing member of society. … When they ask me what Tabor can do for the community, just provide advocacy programs for the children. Let them know before they become delinquent that this is a place that they could come.”

Upcoming efforts

The next step for Tabor is to plan other brainstorming community forms.

Pchelka said that Tabor will collect the data from Wednesday’s event to both help develop a community advisory board and be used as a self-reflection tool to prioritize needs.

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