Human Services Dept. Name Awaits Gov. Corbetts Signature

Sept. 17, 2014

The Campaign for What Worksproposal to change the name of the Department of Public Welfare to the Department of Human Services is on Gov. Tom Corbetts desk awaiting his signature.

The state House on Wednesday took final action on the bill (HB 993) designed to begin removing the stigma attached to persons who receive human services from the Commonwealth. The House approved the final version of the bill by a – to – vote.

More than 100 organizations across Pennsylvania joined the Campaign for What Workscoalition calling for the General Assembly to change the name of the department. The proposal was supported by leaders from the four legislative caucuses, and has been endorsed by the Corbett administration.

“I am gratified to see this happen,” said Bridgette Gaussa, a mother of two from Allegheny County who needed human services assistance after her children were born prematurely. “There should be no stigma attached to getting help for your children. This change is way past due.”

Pennsylvania is the only state that continues to use the term welfare in the name of the agency providing human services to its residents. Every Pennsylvania county has a human services department that handles services funded by the Department of Public Welfare.

Ninety-eight percent of the funds for the Department of Public Welfare go to human services support, including long-term care for the aging, mental health services, state-funded medical assistance, and funding for intellectually disabled persons. Only the remaining two percent are used for items some call welfare.

“This has been a 20-year journey,” said Kevin Jenkins, Vice President for Public Policy and Civic Leadership for The Pittsburgh Fund, and a Campaign for What Works leader, said of the effort to change the departments name. “We are grateful to Rep. Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery), who wrote the legislation, and to the leaders on both sides of the aisle of the House and Senate who made sure this was completed before the end of this two-year session.”

Rep. Murt drafted the bill to ensure its approval in a way that limits the costs of implementation. Stationery will not be changed until new supplies need to be ordered. Software within the department will not be change