LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A law firm has been hired by Luzerne County to conduct a review of Luzerne County Children & Youth Services, the county announced Thursday.
Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders law firm will perform an internal review of the department.
“Regaining the trust of families and the broader public is our top priority,” said Romilda Crocamo, Acting County Manager. “We know that won’t be possible without first understanding what happened, how and why. That’s why we retained Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders. We are confident that they, along with the Pennsylvania Attorney General, the PA Department of Human Services and any additional law enforcement authorities that are conducting investigations, will help us achieve this goal.”
This comes after Joanne Van Saun, former director of Luzerne County Children & Youth Services, was charged with directing employees to falsely terminate reports of child abuse and neglect, according to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.
According to court documents, Van Saun ordered staff to delete 217 reports of abuse and neglect that were part of a backlog in May of 2017. At that time, Luzerne County had nearly 1,400 outstanding referrals and was operating on a provisional license.
Three other Luzerne County Children and Youth employees can no longer serve as mandated reporters of child abuse because of this investigation.
State Representative Tarah Toohil says the child welfare system is wrought with inadequacies, is broken and must change. She sent a letter to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro expressing concerns about the operations of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services.