Allegheny County Controller Corey O’Connor announced that his office will conduct an audit of programs operated by the County’s Department of Human Services (DHS) or its contractors to meet the needs of children with incarcerated parents. The audit will examine how these programs are funded and operated, how they identify children in need of services, and measures of effectiveness.

 Data from the Allegheny County Jail showed 95 incarcerated individuals receiving Family Support services in September. A 2018 study from the National Council on Family Relations found that “Parental incarceration induces household instability, increases the risk of childhood homelessness, and increases dependence on public assistance.”

 “Clearly, the incarceration of a parent presents monumental challenges to children and their caregivers. It is essential that this highly vulnerable population receive robust support.  Our aim with this audit is to see how DHS programs engaging these children and families can be better supported and enhanced, that those in need are being reached, and that measures of success are established and being achieved,” O’Connor said. “While action at all levels of government to reduce incarceration of those who present little risk to public safety must continue, these efforts to mitigate the effects on supports systems for children are crucial.”

Lori Churilla, Assistant Deputy Controller for the Auditing Division, said she looks forward to a collaborative process with DHS as auditors examine these programs.

 “The wide variety of programs operated and administered by DHS target many areas of need. We look forward to examining how DHS interacts with this particular subset of vulnerable youth and if these efforts could be improved and expanded through greater support from the County or other levels of government. By looking closely at essential programs, we believe we can highlight their successes while identifying where even greater impacts can be made,” Churilla said.