Pennsylvania Permanency Conference Honors Child Welfare Achievements

The Hassinger FamilyThe Hassinger Family /Submitted Image

POCONO MANOR, PA – The 32nd Annual Pennsylvania Permanency Conference, hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) in Monroe County, brought together child welfare professionals, foster families, kinship care providers, and community members. The event focused on fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing aimed at helping children find permanent homes through adoption and other permanency processes.

Since the inception of the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) in 1992, Pennsylvania has seen over 58,000 adoptions. Annually, the state finalizes more than 2,000 adoptions from the child welfare system. Despite these successes, over 13,600 children are served in out-of-home care every six months, with nearly 3,000 of these youth still in need of permanent homes.

The conference’s mission is multi-faceted: to train participants on preparing children and families for permanency, educate and support those involved in the adoption process, and provide opportunities for children to be matched with prospective families. By bringing together various stakeholders, the conference aims to streamline the journey toward finding forever homes for Pennsylvania’s foster children.

An essential highlight of the conference was the awards ceremony, which recognized individuals and organizations making significant contributions to child welfare and permanency.

The Permanent Family Recognition Award honored families who have provided legalized permanency for children in the welfare system. This year’s recipients included:

  • Bob and Tessa Campbell, Northumberland County
  • Brian and Mia Hassinger, Juniata County
  • Corey and Amy Miller, Wyoming County
  • Alexis Bowman, Philadelphia County
  • Jared and Jason Dahlgren Moots, Allegheny County
  • Francine Hazzard, Allegheny County

Philanthropy Recognition went to Josh and Melissa Conklin of Cody’s Closet in Butler County, acknowledging their charitable commitment to promoting permanency for children in foster care.

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The Permanency Teamwork Recognition celebrated collaborative efforts between county courts and child welfare agencies. This year’s awardees were:

  • Rebecca Mill, Berks County Children and Youth Services
  • Rose Santana, Berks County Children and Youth Services
  • Brooke Strausser, Berks County Children and Youth Services
  • Natalie Farst, Berks County Children and Youth Services
  • Mark Zimmer, Guardian Ad Litem
  • Elizabeth Teeters, Concern
  • Brianna Sears, Empowerment Behavioral Health
  • Kristin Huntzinger, Empowerment Behavioral Health

Permanency Advocate Recognition was awarded to Parvis Ansari, Centre County Public Defender, for his exceptional dedication to building cooperative relationships that expedite the permanency process.

Independent Living Professional Recognition went to Cassie Reasbeck of Warren County, who has helped youth transition into successful, contributing members of society.

Permanency Professional Recognition acknowledged David Diller from Delaware County for his exemplary work in a child welfare agency.

Lastly, the Youth Advocate Recognition was given to Emma Grimm from Westmoreland County for her outstanding advocacy on behalf of youth.

Empowering Children: Celebrating Achievements and Building Futures.

The importance of this conference extends beyond the immediate recognition of achievements. It plays a critical role in addressing the ongoing needs of thousands of children seeking permanent homes. By celebrating successes and promoting best practices, the conference fosters an environment where more children can find stability and security.

Recognizing the efforts of those who facilitate the adoption process highlights the continued need for community involvement and support. The awards underscore the collaborative spirit required to navigate the complex landscape of child welfare and adoption.

As the conference concludes, the focus remains on the future. Efforts to train, support, and match children with families continue, driven by the shared goal of providing every child with a loving, permanent home.

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