Warren County Children and Youth services are increasingly providing services within the county that are not eligible for reimbursement by the Commonwealth.
On Wednesday, the Warren County Commissioners passed an ordinance setting a number of new fees to make up for the revenue lost performing "ancillary activities from those who ask for them to be performed."
"The reason we approached the commissioners and have had this discussion for quite some time is that we're seeing more and more work that is non-CYS related with non-open cases which takes up a lot of time... we're finding it takes away from our duties," Warren County Human Services Director Mary Kushner said.
Caseworkers are finding themselves subpoened to court for custody cases "where we might sit for a long time and not even be called into court to testify," Kushner said.
Now, there is a $25 an hour charge for all subpoenas for testimony on cases that are not active with Warren County Children and Youth Services.
Services such as a supervised visitations where parties can't agree on an intermediary for court-ordered visitation in a case outside the department's official involvement will also cost $25 an hour.
"We're asked to be involved, which requires time that we need to supervise the visits, appear for court, have written reports for court," Kushner said. "So it's taking up caseworker time on cases that are not in our system."
Adoption home studies, which include a complete family profile will now cost $2,500.
Kushner described them as a "very lengthy process, from evaluating family finances to see if they can support a child, to testing their water, making sure electric works. So there's a lot involved in those cases. If someone goes through our agency, we do the home study and then they, the family adopts one of our children, we would look at returning those funds back to the family...It is time consuming and is taking away from the duties of supervisors."
Other fees include a $100 charge for court-ordered home evaluations where an open Human Services case is not active and $250 for court-ordered home evaluations not in the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.
"I send my sincerest appreciation to all the administration up at Human Services and Children and Youth relative to getting this brought to the attention of the commissioners' office. Again, whenever we start collecting fees like this it may not offset everything we're involved with, but it's a start," Commissioner John Bortz said. "And these are ancillary services which are not mandated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It seems as though we are being charged with, whether it's locally or from the courts, whether it being from the court system in general, it seems as though Children and Youth Services have taken on a more amplified role with regard to some of these activities and we do not receive any funding from the Commonwealth to reimburse it or recognize what we are doing. I think it's a right step forward."