Audit: York County Children and Youth agency “overwhelmed”, owes state $578,400

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale will soon begin a statewide investigation into Children and Youth agencies across the state, he announced Thursday.

DePasquale's upcoming audit, called "State of the Child," he says will focus ten counties statewide: Allegheny, Bucks, Cambria, Centre, Crawford, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Fayette, Luzerne, Monroe, and Philadelphia. The examination, expected to be completed by fall, will evaluate the role of caseworkers, many of which the Auditor General feels are getting sent to homes without proper training.

"We're asking a lot of these kids, asking them to become chiseled adults pretty quickly, and I'm not convinced our current framework is sustainable for achieving that goal," DePasquale said.

York County is not listed because on Thursday, DePasquale announced the results of their audit.

According to the Auditor General's investigation, the York County Children & Youth agency must pay the state $578,400. Most of that money, DePasquale said, is because the agency was paying health benefits for retired workers.

The audit covered July 2010 through June 2014.

"I don't know what was in their head at that time because it clearly wasn't allowed," DePasquale said.

Terry Clark, currently the executive director for the York County Office of Children, Youth, and Families, did not take over the agency until April 2015. York County CYF has been under the state's microscope since 2014, and received four provisional licenses before earning a full operational license last November.

However, DePasquale said, the group has been overwhelmed by staff shortages for the better part of this decade.

"They are overworked and overwhelmed," Clark admitted of his staff.

York County CYF currently has 90 caseworkers, he said, and in 2015 alone, York County had 1,832 referrals, which was fourth-highest in the state. Clark says the county could see around 450 to 500 referrals per month, and requests are double the amount.

"Whatever comes into the agency, we're responsible for investigating those cases," Clark said.

The $578,400 debt the county now owes to the state will eventually come out of future funding. However, it's not expected to lead to layoffs or fewer caseworkers.

"We are obligated and mandated to provide a service to children to keep them safe," Clark said. "Regardless of what the county may have to pay back to the state, we're still going to do our job and protect the children of this county."