Dio­cese cuts pro­grams for adop­tions, foster kids

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FRONT PAGE - BY JIM DINO STAFF WRITER

The Dio­cese of Scran­ton is dis­con­tin­u­ing Catholic So­cial Ser­vices’ adop­tion and foster care pro­grams.

Cit­ing strained fis­cal re­sources, and a de­cline lo­cally and na­tion­wide in adop­tion and foster care, Bishop Joseph C. Bam­bera, said Mon­day in a state­ment the two pro­grams are be­ing dis­con­tin­ued but did not give a spe­cific date.

“Be­cause adop­tion is so closely aligned with Catholic So­cial Ser­vices’ mis­sion and Catholic so­cial teach­ing, this is a par­tic­u­larly painful step to take,” the bishop said in a news re­lease.

Dan Gal­lagher, a spokesman for the dio­cese, said CSS stopped tak­ing re­fer­rals from the Statewide Adop­tion Net­work — which the pro­grams worked with — at the be­gin­ning of Septem­ber.

“How­ever, any cases that we re­ceived through Aug. 31, we are con­tin­u­ing to work on,” Gal­lagher said.

In a let­ter to the edi­tor, Sheila Mas lo, foster care su­per­vi­sor and a CSS adop­tion case­worker in Ha­zle­ton, said al­though the pro­gram’s end does not have an ex­act date, “tran­si­tion planning is tak­ing place ,” and all re­source fam­i­lies on hold will have their cases closed.

Adop­tive par­ents will be no­ti­fied in the near fu­ture where adop­tion records will be sent. And Act 101 cases will also re­ceive no­ti­fi­ca­tion in the near fu­ture where cor­re­spon­dence will be sent.

“Over the last few years, how­ever, Catholic So­cial Ser­vices has seen a de­cline in its adop­tion and foster care pro­grams,” Bam­bera said. “This is not unique to North­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia; adop­tion is de­clin­ing na­tion­wide, and the num­ber of chil­dren in foster care has de­clined as well. Given there source de­mands of these two pro­grams, the de­ci­sion has been made to dis­con­tinue them and Catholic So­cial Ser­vices’ af­fil­i­a­tion with SWAN. Ev­ery ef­fort will be made to as­sure a smooth, pro­fes­sional, and com­pas­sion­ate tran­si­tion as these pro­grams are phased out.”

Part of the de­ci­sion was fis­cal, the bishop said.

“Hu­man ser­vices pro­grams are la­bor-in­ten­sive and of­ten un­der­funded,” Bam­bera said in a state­ment. “In the last year, de­spite gen­er­ous sup­port from the peo­ple of the Dio­cese, it has be­come ap­par­ent that Catholic So­cial Ser­vices’ fis­cal re­sources are in­creas­ingly strained. The op­er­a­tional deficit is ris­ing and fund­ing at the lo­cal, state, and fed­eral lev­els is shrink­ing.”

In the news re­lease, Bam­bera of­fered al­ter­na­tives for those in­ter­ested in adop­tion and foster care.

“T he re­sources of St. Joseph’s Cen­ter, head­quar­tered in the Dio­cese of Scran­ton, are avail­able for Catholic fam­i­lies wish­ing to adopt,” the bishop said. “A spon­sored mis­sion of the Congregation of Sis­ters, Ser­vants of the Im­mac­u­late Heart of Mary, for more than a cen­tury, St. Joseph’s is also a SWAN af­fil­i­ate.”

The Chil­dren, Youth and Fam­ily Ser­vices de par t - ments in the re­gion — which are head­quar­tered at Catholic So­cial Ser­vices in Ha­zle­ton — will con­tinue to have re­sources avail­able for foster care to as­sist chil­dren and fam­i­lies in need, Bam­bera said.

“Catholic So­cial Ser­vices’ pres­ence in Ha­zle­ton, where there is a grow­ing need for pro­grams to shel­ter and as­sist the home­less and feed the hun­gry, is a good ex­am­ple of how ser­vices are evolv­ing,” Bam­bera said. “In the last two years, Catholic So­cial Ser­vices has re­sponded to the crit­i­cal needs of the area’s home­less pop­u­la­tion as a found­ing part­ner in the de­vel­op­ment of Di­vine Providence emer­gency shel­ter in Ha­zle­ton, and is now work­ing to­ward es­tab­lish­ing a per­ma­nent home for the shel­ter. Catholic So­cial Ser­vices con­tin­ues to op­er­ate St. Joseph’s Pantry, as well as other such ini­tia­tives, and is ac­tively de­vel­op­ing a plan for a more di­rect needs-based use of Catholic So­cial Ser­vices’ Ha­zle­ton fa­cil­ity.”

one adop­tion stor y

In an­other let­ter to the edi­tor of the Stan­dard-Speaker. Andrew and Su­san Lake won­der what will hap­pen to their ef­fort to adopt a sec­ond child and what will hap­pen to the records of the first.

The Lakes went the Catholic So­cial Ser­vices route be­cause they could af­ford it, Andrew Lake said.

“We in­ves­ti­gated into adop­tion only to find out it could cost tens of thou­sands of dol­lars,” Lake wrote. “We were not in a sit­u­a­tion to af­ford that. We were about to give up when a friend who adopted through Catholic So­cial Ser­vices came to us. She stated that for less than 10 thou­sand dol­lars you can adopt lo­cally through Catholic So­cial Ser­vices.”

The Lakes were screened, and then had the op­por­tu­nity to be­come foster par­ents to a 7-month-old girl “with the strong pos­si­bil­ity to adopt.” They were able to adopt her, Lake said.

“The staff at Catholic So­cial Ser­vices was amaz­ing through the whole process and be­cause we fos­tered to adopt the cost of the whole process went down to less than $3,000,” Lake said. “Catholic So­cial Ser­vices is a tremen­dous as­set to this com­mu­nity for peo­ple look­ing to adopt or foster.”

In the let­ter, he urged peo­ple to write let­ters to the dio­cese, shar­ing their sto­ries and fam­ily pic­tures.

“I hon­estly don’t know if it is go­ing to help, but at this point it cer­tainly won’t hurt ei­ther,” Lake wrote.

Lake said let­ters should be di­rected to: Bishop Joseph C. Bam­bera, 300 Wy­oming Ave. Scran­ton, PA 18503-1279, or email: Bish­ops-Of­fice@dio­ce­se­of­scran­ton.org; Mary Theresa Vautrinot, Sec­re­tary for Catholic Hu­man Ser­vices, also 300 Wy­oming Ave ., Scran­ton, PA 18503-1279, and email: Mary-Theresa-Vautrinot@dio­ce­se­of­scran­ton.org; and Neil Oberto, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Catholic So­cial Ser­vices, Ha­zle­ton, 214 W. Wal­nut St ., Haz let on, PA 18201, and email: neil@css­ha­zle­ton.org

more cuts

In Mon­roe County, where Catholic So­cial Ser­vices op­er­ates Shep­herd’s Ma­ter­nity House, per­ma­nent sup­port­ive hous­ing sites, and Big Broth­ers/Big Sis­ters, two pro­grams are be­ing dis­con­tin­ued — a drug and al­co­hol treat­ment pro­gram and an in­for­ma­tion and re­fer­ral ser­vice that has op­er­ated in part­ner­ship with the Fed­er­a­tion of Lati­nos for In­for­ma­tion About Cul­tures of His­panic Amer­ica.

“Be­cause other drug and al­co­hol treat­ment providers serve the Strouds­burg area, there should be no gap in ser­vices,” the bishop said in the state­ment. “The Dio­cese con­tin­ues its on­go­ing ef­forts to de­velop a more com­pre­hen­sive re­sponse to the grow­ing needs of our His­panic pop­u­la­tion through the Of­fice of Par­ish Life.”


Bishop Joseph C. Bam­bera an­nounced the ends to pro­grams due to fi­nan­cial con­cerns.

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