LOCK HAVEN — Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Max Baer has announced that Clinton County has been selected as one of only seven counties to participate in the Pennsylvania State Roundtable’s new Family Engagement Initiative. The roundtable is a collaborative effort among state and national court and child welfare leaders.
Building upon past successes, the initiative will focus on enhancements to the local child dependency system, which serves abused or neglected children and their families.
“The selected counties will get training from international experts to teach them cutting-edge practices rooted in research and science to enhance the way they help children and families,” said Justice Baer. “We are excited to include Clinton County in the first phase of the initiative. Its child welfare agency’s pioneering work in family inclusion, as well as its history of strong judicial leadership, made it a perfect fit for the initiative.
“We in Clinton County are fortunate to be selected to participate in this initiative. It is a reflection of the leadership and commitment of both the Commissioners and Autumn Bower of the Children and Youth Agency” said Clinton County President Judge Craig Miller.
The seven counties selected include Adams, Blair, Clinton, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Northampton and Union. The selection process was statewide and competitive. Interested counties were required to submit a letter of interest which included signatures from the lead dependency judge, the president judge, the county commissioners and child welfare director.
With a larger than expected number of counties applying, the selection process was rigorous. Final selections were made by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts’ Office of Children and Families in the Courts, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ Office of Children, Youth and Families and Justice Baer.
Factors considered in the selection process included:
- strong collaboration between county courts and children and youth agencies
- current family engagement practices
- data reviews
“This initiative will be an important aspect of the county’s overall effort to help lift children and their families from what can be an unending cycle of despair. I can’t think of a better way to help Clinton County and its citizens than to help uplift its foundation, the family,” said Pete Smeltz, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners.
The Family Engagement Initiative was developed by the Pennsylvania State Roundtable and is supported by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts’ Office of Children and Families in the Courts and the Federal Court Improvement Program, in partnership with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and Department of Human Services’ Office of Children, Youth and Families.
The Pennsylvania State Roundtable plans to expand this initiative to other counties in 2018.