Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri said he can’t guarantee Children and Youth’s license will be removed from provisional status next month, but staffing and documentation concerns have been addressed.
“I want to be very clear to council we are making strides,” Pedri said last week. “We still are facing many issues, but I would say that we are getting better, and we will continue to get better.”
The state reduced the license to provisional status in September 2015 after a review stemming from the death of a child and other inspections that found “some serious concerns regarding agency practice as well as regulatory violations.” The downgrading continues through Sept. 16 based on additional noncompliance with regulations and a corrective plan.
State inspectors will conduct a full license revision review in September, Pedri said.
The license restoration effort came up during Pedri’s status report on his latest batch of expiring, self-imposed 90-day goals for each division.
Other human service division departments have met their goals to complete an aging department master plan, hold heroin overdose antidote Narcan training sessions and create a new program for volunteers to help injured and ill veterans and surviving spouses with household tasks.
Among Pedri’s updates on goals met or in progress in other divisions:
In addition to helping the outside auditor complete the 2015 audit by the June 30 deadline, the division has prepared proposals seeking a bank and payroll services vendor.
The county had selected PNC Bank to handle the county’s banking in September 2013, and seeking proposals again may yield additional savings, Pedri said. Proposals are due Sept. 16.
Proposals are due Sept. 7 from vendors to set up a new and more efficient payroll processing system compatible with the county’s biometric time clocks. Pedri said he will report to the council if the administration receives a viable proposal.
• Judicial Services and Records
Public computers in the deed/wills office now contain assessment and civil court records, eliminating the need for title searchers and lawyers to visit multiple offices for research.
Bail forfeiture hearings also will be reactivated. These hearings stopped in 2013 due to staffing shortages and are necessary for the county clerk of courts office to claim bail from defendants who failed to appear for court proceedings or violated other conditions, said Jim Haddock, who oversees the office.
Haddock said his office is preparing 22 bail forfeiture claims.
Pedri told the council the county may receive thousands of dollars.
• Administrative Services
The conversion to a voice-over-IP telephone system will be “substantially complete” by Aug. 31, saving an estimated thousands of dollars per month.
The information technology department also is equipping each employee with a new computer or a monitor hooked up to a small “thin client” device that accesses current software and other data previously stored in towers.
• Office of Law
Staff attorneys developed protocol to speed up the processing of proposed contracts, which will now be electronically accessed and signed to end paper shuffling.
Lawyers also have been identifying which county records can be purged or must be preserved in a new county record storage building in Hanover Township.
• Public Defenders
The division has been working to fill vacancies to ensure defendants have adequate representation. The county has high turnover in legal and social worker positions, Pedri said.
“There are constantly vacancies,” Pedri said. “We’re looking for some good people who want to make a difference.”
• Operational Services
The 911 department has developed an extensive countywide emergency response plan that is awaiting state Department of Health approval.
The in-house engineering office design of beam repairs for 20 to 30 county-owned bridges has been completed, which will allow the county to publicly seek contractors to perform the work.
• Correctional Services
Prison officials have met with state inspectors conducting a yet-to-be-released annual review.
A victims’ resource program also was created for female inmates.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.