Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
Advocates say a new report on Pennsylvania's child welfare system shows a shift toward practices that promote healthier children and more stable families.
The fifth annual report by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children finds a number of best practices are catching on.
More children entering foster care are being placed with families as opposed to institutions. Adoptions are up, and taking less time than was reported five years ago. The prevalence of in-home services has grown, as foster care placements have dropped. The trends observed in the latest report may not continue as recently signed laws aiming to protect children go into effect.
"We actually think child abuse substantiation is likely to go up in coming years and placement might go up," said PPC President Joan Benson.
Also noted in the report is drug use among parents, which has more than doubled as the listed reason for removing children from their homes in the past five years. Benso said that for parents with substance abuse problems, treatment isn't always immediately accessible, putting the child at risk if he or she stays in the home.
"If you can't get treatment and you have a substance abuse problem either because you are uninsured or because your insurance isn't accepted in the facility or there's a waiting list for you to be in rehab, we are lengthening the time before a child can go back home," Benso said, adding that making substance abuse services more accessible could help children stay in their homes - or return to them more quickly.
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