03/16/2008 - When doctors found fractures in 23-day-old Giosyra Prendes' legs and ribs and evidence of shaken-baby syndrome, Lehigh County child welfare authorities placed her in foster care.
Her teenage father admitted hurting the baby, born on July 29, 2005.
In July 2007, after her mother, Audrey Johnson, now 19, took parenting classes and complied with other requirements -- and when caseworkers were sure the toddler would be safe -- Giosyra came home.
Giosyra is among an increasing number of children who have moved out of foster care and either back to biological parents or into an adoptive family.
The number of children in placement in Pennsylvania has dropped 4,252 -- 11.2 percent -- since 2002, according to the state Department of Public Welfare.
But while child welfare officials are heartened by the drop in the numbers of children in residential foster care, at least one advocacy organization is calling for more federal money to help families keep children at home.
''Right now, despite reunification being the primary goal for children in foster care, the majority of federal child welfare funds can only be used to help a child while in out-of-home placement -- foster care,'' said Marci McCoy-Roth, a health and human services officer at the Pew Charitable Trusts.
''The truth is, many of the same pressures in a family will still exist when a child is returned home after being in foster care, and parents and children alike may need services like counseling to help the reunification be successful,'' McCoy-Roth said.
Read the full article Use of Foster Care Down Across State on the Morning Call's Web site.