On July 31, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf acknowledged the long-standing issues with existing state systems and announced — by executive order — an overhaul of the state systems and services to protect the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians.
Gov. Wolf’s “Protection of Vulnerable Populations” executive order establishes the Office of Advocacy and Reform to be maintained by the Governor’s Office, led by an executive director. Positions within the new office will include a new child advocate position, integration of the Long-term Care Ombudsman, and a Council on Reform, including 25 voting members appointed by Gov. Wolf, to support this effort by looking at protecting vulnerable populations from three perspectives: prevention and diversion, protection and intervention, and justice and support.
Both the Council on Reform and the Office of Advocacy and Reform will identify reforms needed for Pennsylvania to better protect and support individuals relying upon services and assistance from the commonwealth.
“I want to be clear that I am not disparaging the hardworking and, frankly, underpaid and underappreciated workers within this system,” Gov. Wolf said. “This is not their fault and the failures are not of their making. But we’ve had a series of incidents in our commonwealth that have revealed inadequacies in the system’s ability to protect and uplift Pennsylvanians in vulnerable situations.”
“I want to know what else we can do because this is what we’re here to do as a department, is to protect people and people who are in institutions or facilities. If we can’t do that, that’s not government that works. So this is really important, it’s why it’s so important to the governor, it’s why it’s so important to me,” DHS Secretary Miller says.
The Council on Reform held its first meeting immediately following the announcement. The council is charged with reporting its findings to the governor by Nov. 1 after seeking input from various stakeholder groups.
Read the executive order online.