The mission of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) is “to provide and promote safety, permanency, and well-being for children and youth at risk of abuse, neglect and delinquency.” As a trusted intermediary, PHMC has helped DHS fulfill its mission in a variety of ways. “One of the reasons the city turns to us as a trusted and valuable provider is that we move quickly to address emerging needs,” says John Loeb, senior vice president of PHMC.

In 2001, PHMC helped to establish the DHS Parenting Collaborative with funding from the department’s Community-Based Prevention Services unit. A citywide network of 43 parent education agencies, the DHS Parenting Collaborative seeks to decrease the likelihood of child abuse—and thereby the need for DHS involvement in the home—by educating parents. The DHS Parenting Collaborative addresses several objectives: raising parents’ awareness of abuse and neglect; improving their ability to manage feelings; and increasing their knowledge of positive, nurturing, and responsive parenting, as well as child development and the educational needs of their children.

One of the reasons the city turns to us as a trusted and valuable provider is that we move quickly to address emerging needs.”

“PHMC and DHS work together as a team to ensure that parents are getting the quality support they need,” says Jeanne Ciocca, coordinator of the DHS Parenting Collaborative. To participate in the Collaborative, parent education agencies must submit written proposals and take part in a competitive review process. PHMC provides a fiscal analyst and three program monitors, all master degree level staff, to support the Collaborative with contractual compliance and quality assurance. “We help the parent education agencies with the contractual, hands-on, nuts-and-bolts part of the Collaborative in addition to programmatic issues related to enrollment, retention and curriculum

implementation,” says Ciocca. “By doing both, we ensure that DHS clients receive quality service and that public funds are well spent.” In fiscal year 2010, the DHS Parenting Collaborative served 7,000 parents in the Philadelphia area by offering parenting classes in both English and Spanish.

In addition to the DHS Parenting Collaborative, PHMC has administered the DHS Emergency Fund in collaboration with DHS and provider agencies for the last nine years and created a database that supports the program. Funds can support one of three goals: preventing a child’s placement in the DHS system; facilitating family reunification; and achieving permanency through adoption and subsidized legal guardianship. “We buy a lot of beds,” says Amy Friedlander, PHMC vice president for Management Services and Special Initiatives. “Lack of funds to purchase a bed and similar items sometimes can be the only thing standing in the way of a child’s reunification with his or her family. We also write a lot of checks for rent security deposits and utilities.”

Tom Sheaffer, deputy director of financial policy for the Managing Director’s Office at DHS, serves as the DHS project manager for the city’s Out-of-School-Time (OST) initiative, for which PHMC began to act as intermediary in July 2008. OST provides after-school and summer programs to more than 20,000 Philadelphia children. “The city looks for administrative soundness, expertise and timeliness when it comes to finding a good intermediary,” say Sheaffer. “In the role that PHMC plays as intermediary for us, they monitor for compliance and continue to offer programmatic technical assistance.” According to Friedlander, “DHS shares its vision with us and we implement that vision by monitoring and tracking clients, processing invoices and helping to manage contracts for DHS. Adds Friedlander, “We make sure things are happening the way they are supposed to happen.”