Current Documents

What are Child Fatalities and Near-Fatalities?

The County is required by state law to review each death or near-death of a child and use the information to improve practice and systems. The 2008 Act 33 Amendment to the Child Protective Services law requires state and local reviews of all child fatalities and near-fatalities that result from suspected child abuse.

2019-2021 Child Fatalities and Near-Fatalities Key Findings

  • In Allegheny County from 2019 through 2021 there were 58 child fatalities or near fatalities. The number of total incidents rose each of these years, with 2021 experiencing 25—the highest number since the review process was developed in 2008
  • The age distribution of the victims in these years was consistent with the average distribution across all prior years. Most victims (44%, 26) were under one year of age, followed by 9 victims (16%) at age one
  • Blunt force/penetrating trauma (36%, 21) was the leading causes of both fatal and near-fatal injuries.  There were more incidents caused by drug ingestion or poisoning in 2021 (8) than in previous years
  • Most families (58%) had prior CYF involvement and 33% had active involvement at the time of the incident
  • Parents of the children remained the vast majority (70%) of named perpetrators, as with years prior

What can the dashboard tell us?

This dashboard and series of reports describes findings and outcomes from child fatality/near-fatality (CFNF) reviews. Information about the incidents–including victim and perpetrator demographics, cause of death/injury and families’ prior involvement with the child welfare system–is available in these reports as well as case practice and system reforms enacted to reduce the likelihood of future child abuse-related incidents.

Trouble viewing the dashboard below? You can view it directly here.

How is this information being used?

In addition to the state required reporting of child fatalities and near-fatalities, DHS has used the information to make recommendations to prevent these tragedies in the future. These recommendations include:

  • Improved collaboration with medical physicians
  • Upstream prevention and intervention services
  • Integration of the child welfare system and the substance use treatment system
  • Community and firearm violence reduction
  • Applying safety science to child protection

In depth explanations of these recommendations can be found in the “current documents” section above.


Previous reports

Current Plan and Related Documents

Overview: 

This pilot will examine how lowering the cost of public transportation affects individuals’ travel patterns, employment and earnings, healthcare utilization, and other socioeconomic outcomes. We will provide discounted public transportation fares to a sample of households in Allegheny County who are currently receiving or have recently received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Analysis: 

Researchers will evaluate the effects of the reduced fares using the data collected over the duration of the pilot. The random assignment study design will enable the researchers to estimate the causal effects of the reduced fares by comparing participants’ outcomes between the three discount levels. 

ACDHS and associated stakeholders will receive periodic reports detailing the research findings, and a final report will be made publicly available. 

Allegheny County Department of Human Services and The Pittsburgh Foundation wanted to learn more about evictions in the region: How many eviction cases are filed each year, and for how much money? How many cases are filed against low-income tenants? And how many cases do tenants win in comparison to landlords? This report describes the available data about landlord–tenant cases in Allegheny County from 2012 to 2019 and the quantitative insights we have been able to learn from it.

In addition to the report, a guide to the evictions process has been developed by the Pennsylvania Housing Alliance to help demystify the steps.

What were the takeaways?

  • Thirteen thousand to 14,000 residential eviction cases are filed each year in Allegheny County.
  • In 2019, the average amount claimed by landlords was $2,029. While the number of cases filed has been fairly stable from year to year, the amount of money claimed increased 35% during the period of the study, closely tracking the increase in median rent of defendants in eviction cases.
  • A disproportionate number of cases are filed against low-income tenants living in publicly subsidized housing.
  • Fewer than 1% of tenants have attorneys in landlord–tenant cases. The number of cases in which landlords are represented by legal counsel is also small but has been rising steadily, from 3% in 2012 to 7% in 2019.
  • Landlords win about 85% of cases. Tenants win around 1.5% of cases, with the remaining cases withdrawn, settled or dismissed.
  • Seventy-three percent of landlord–tenant cases filed are for overdue rent alone, as opposed to lease violations or the term of a lease ending.

 

What is this report about ?

From June to October of 2021, Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) provided a cash assistance program for transition-aged youth called Older Youth Pandemic Relief (OYPR). This report describes the methodology and results of a series of surveys that evaluated the impact of the cash assistance program.

What are the takeaways?

  • 76% (n = 1,901) of the people who were eligible to receive the Older Youth Pandemic Relief (OYPR) payment applied for and received the money.
  • The money went to young adults with a high level of need. 85% of recipients were enrolled in Medicaid, and 49% received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
  • Young adults planned to spend the money on meeting basic needs; top categories were bills, housing, car, food and clothing.
  • The program re-engaged young adults with services. 587 of the people who applied for (and received) the OYPR payment qualified for other services available to transition-aged youth but were not using them.
  • By filling out the OYPR application, they provided updated contact information and information about the types of assistance they need.
  • The percentage of recipients who reported having enough money to meet their basic needs increased from 25% at baseline to 34% after receiving the money. This increase was larger for Black and female demographic groups, which reported lower ability to meet their basic needs at baseline.

How is this report being used?

Findings from this program and report are being used internally at DHS to advocate for new income assistance programs. These include both direct cash cash transfers and other forms of income support, such as subsidized transit.

The Latinx population of Allegheny County is growing fast. It is important to understand this community’s demographics, geographic locations, and how our social, health and human services systems are and are not meeting their needs so we can strengthen families and advance the health and wellness that are crucial to supporting the local Latinx community.

What is the Latinx needs assessment?

In early 2020 the Latinx community asked Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) to commission a community needs assessment. DHS issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in August 2020, and a review committee selected Metis Associates as the successful proposer. The RFP is available here. Award details and the successful proposal is available here.

The assessment, which was conducted between January and September 2021, was a collaboration between Metis Associates, a research firm from New York; MonWin, an urban planning firm in Pittsburgh; and several community researchers. The assessment includes interviews with community leaders and service providers, focus groups with community members, and a review of public and administrative data sources.

What is the Service Utilization by Latinx Communities Data Brief?

To accompany the findings of the needs assessment, DHS conducted the following analyses to describe Latinx use of human services, publicly funded health services and involvement with the criminal justice system within Allegheny County. The analysis describes participation rates of people identifying as Latinx in 1) family and child services, 2) physical and behavioral health services, 3) aging services, 4) developmental support services, 5) income supports, 6) housing and homeless supports, and 7) criminal and juvenile justice involvement.

What is this report about?

Each year, Allegheny County participates in a federally required national effort to count the number of people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. Allegheny County also performs a supplemental count in the summer. The Point-in-Time (PIT) homeless count enumerates the sheltered (residing in emergency homeless shelters or transitional housing programs) and unsheltered (residing in places not meant for human habitation) homeless population within the County.

What are the key takeaways from the 2022 count?

  • The total count was higher in the winter of 2022 by 188 individuals. In January of 2021, 692 individuals were experiencing homelessness, compared to 880 in 2022.
  • The number of households with children increased by 12 from 2021 to 2022; adult-only households increased by 124.
  • The increases in 2022 may be partially attributed to significantly warmer weather in 2022, more shelter beds available in 2022, and a well-organized count.

How are these reports used?

Allegheny County will continue to conduct PIT counts, working to improve the accuracy of the count. And in particular, the count of people in unsheltered locations by assessing and expanding the locations that street outreach teams visit.

The data collected during the yearly PIT is submitted to HUD, to create a yearly homelessness assessment report presented to congress. For more information, visit the HUD website on the Point-in-Time Count, linked here.

Allegheny County uses the yearly data to understand the shelter conditions of the homeless population more holistically, and make recommendations around allocation of homeless and housing services.

What are these reports about?

Nationally and locally, policymakers and practitioners are interested in the people who frequently use publicly funded services, particularly crisis services. Most people who use crisis services do so infrequently during a year. A small number of people, however, use crisis services frequently, and sometimes they use more than one type of crisis service.

Allegheny County’s rich integrated data allows us to look at the people who use crisis services. This report summarizes key findings about the people who were involved with one or more of the following four crisis services in the years 2016 through 2017: hospital emergency departments, emergency homeless shelters, mental health crisis programs, and the criminal justice system. This summary report will be followed up by reports examining each of these four service areas in more detail.

What are the takeaways?

  • Of the people who used at least one of the four crisis services examined, 6% (10,655) met the definition of frequent users in at least one system. They accounted for 26% of all service episodes during this period.
  • There is little overlap between frequent utilizers of one type of crisis service and another. Just 9% of users were frequent in multiple systems. This does not mean they didn’t use other services, just that they were not frequent users of those systems.
  • Nonetheless, 26% of frequent users of mental health crisis services were also frequent users of hospital emergency departments, indicating that the emergency room might be a point of intervention for people in mental health crisis.
  • All frequent users of emergency shelter were connected to other human services prior to their first shelter stay during this period. This overlap suggests that although frequent utilizers of emergency shelters were connected to supports, the reasons behind people’s continued use of shelter were not adequately addressed through the services they were receiving.

Black residents are using crisis services at disproportionately high rates, and the disproportionality is more pronounced when looking at frequent utilizers. While 13% of the Allegheny County population is Black, 42% of people who used crisis systems (both frequent and non-frequent) were Black, and 49% of frequent utilizers were Black.

How is this report used?

This work is meant to be exploratory and descriptive in nature to help continue and expand the conversation about how we look at frequent utilizers and potential interventions going forward. By looking more closely at this population of frequent utilizers, we hope to gain insight into their needs, identify key intervention points, and find ways to encourage long-term wellness while reducing the need for repeat intense service usage.

Where can I go for more information?

For questions or suggestions, please reach out to DHS-Research@alleghenycounty.us

Latest data and analysis

An analytic report and interactive map describe homicides in our region using data from the Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Focusing on 2016 through 2021, the analysis provides recent and long-term homicide trends as well as comparisons to rates nationally and in other cities. Homicides are just a fraction of gun violence, however, so we also provide data on non-fatal shootings for a more complete picture.

Since gun violence does not affect all geographic locations and populations equally, the analysis describes victim and perpetrator demographics and homicide locations by municipality, neighborhood and census tract. Our research highlights the people and places who are disproportionately impacted by homicide and gun violence in order to inform policy and violence prevention efforts.

What are the key takeaways?

  • Homicide is heavily concentrated in a small number of higher-need communities and overwhelmingly cuts short the lives of young Black men.
  • Both Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh saw increases in homicides from 2019 through 2021. This was after stable or declining trends from 2016 through 2019.
  • Firearms were used in nearly 90% of homicides.
  • Homicides usually occurred close to where victims lived. Nearly 90% of victims were murdered within 10 miles of their home. Females were twice as likely as males to be murdered at their own residence.

How is Allegheny County using this data?

Based on the homicide trends presented in this report and research on best practices, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) is sustainably funding public health approaches to community violence reduction that are rooted in evidence.

What other homicide data is available?

Two interactive dashboards provide up-to-date data on homicides in the County and homicides in the City of Pittsburgh.


Previous reports about homicide

In October of 2018, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded Allegheny County a Safety and Justice Challenge grant to reduce the population of the Allegheny County Jail by 20%. This series of reports outlines the progress made in the first three years of the project, as well as plans to continue reforms in the criminal justice system, address racial and ethnic disparities and engage community members in this work.

This report explores the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment in Allegheny County. It uses data from Pennsylvania Unemployment Insurance records. We examined the employment, earnings and unemployment benefits of working-age clients of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) from July 2019 through September 2020. This analysis sheds light on how some of Allegheny County’s neediest workers fared in the months preceding and following the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.

What are the takeaways?

  • DHS clients have persistent difficulty maintaining work and earning enough money to support themselves. Working-age clients had employment rates between 34 and 38 percent and quarterly earnings around $4,000 prior to the onset of COVID-19.
  • DHS clients’ employment and earnings decreased markedly during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, but began to rebound back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of September 2020. These trends paralleled the countywide situation.

How is this report used?

By continuing to investigate our clients’ employment experiences, DHS and its partners can gain insight into the economic challenges of our clients and tailor our services, including education and job-related supports, to better meet clients’ needs.

Access the report

From May through August 2021, Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) engaged in a comprehensive needs assessment. The purpose of the assessment was to determine how DHS can best address the needs of individuals and families living in poverty and promote stability and economic security using Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) funds and other flexible funding across the agency. The assessment included collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from community members and service providers.

What are the takeaways?

  • Less than half of survey respondents were satisfied with their ability to meet their family’s everyday basic needs.
  • The incidence of poverty varies widely by family structure, race, ethnicity, education and employment. The rate of poverty is more than double the County average among single mothers, Black and multiracial residents, and those with less than a high school degree.
  • Need remains persistently high in McKees Rocks and Stowe, sections of Penn Hills and Wilkinsburg, much of the Monongahela River Valley, and sections of Harrison Township.
Access the report

The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to shift to remote learning models, causing challenges related to childcare and access to education. In response, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS), Trying Together, and the United Way partnered with out-of-school time providers and community-based organizations to open Community Learning Hubs. Opened in September 2020, the Hubs provided a free place for students to engage in virtual learning. Forty-nine providers operated 75 Hub locations that offered schoolwork support, technology troubleshooting, high-speed internet access, and meal distribution in a safe, supervised environment. This report provides data about student demographics, the school districts involved, and attendance trends.

What are the Bethesda-Homewood Properties?

The Bethesda-Homewood Properties were subsidized units located in several predominantly Black neighborhoods in Pittsburgh’s East End. In 2017, more than 200 residents of these properties were displaced. A federal subsidy provided to the property owner was being abated because of the owner’s repeated failure to maintain the properties. Residents were effectively forced to move because of the loss of their rental subsidy, but eligible residents were provided housing vouchers and moving cost assistance.

Why did we want to learn more about this housing displacement?

Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) wanted to learn more about the impact of housing displacement on residents of Bethesda-Homewood properties and use the information to inform planning for future mass displacements. This information is especially important in informing racial equity strategies in our region, given that housing displacement disproportionately affects Black residents, with Bethesda-Homewood being no exception.

What did we learn?

In some ways, housing vouchers offered opportunity for residents who moved; displaced residents were theoretically able to choose the location of their new homes. In reality, residents had difficulty finding landlords who would accept their housing vouchers, and the majority of displaced residents continued to live in neighborhoods with relatively high needs even after their relocation. While residents had limited geographic choice when it came to using their vouchers, most were still able to move to neighborhoods with comparatively less gun violence and good access to amenities. Half of those residents who completed a telephone survey reported feeling safer in their current neighborhood.


Related materials

In September of 2020, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) and Allegheny County Emergency Services co-convened the Crisis Response Stakeholder Group (CRSG). Comprised of over 30 stakeholders from across the crisis system including representatives from 9-1-1, law enforcement, City and County government, elected officials, foundations, provider agencies and community members, the workgroup was formed to address the overreliance on emergency services for people with behavioral health needs, as well as the racial inequities that persist throughout our crisis system.

The group met regularly to map out the current crisis system and hear from a wide variety of stakeholders, including frontline staff and people in the community. They identified gaps and opportunities within the system and developed a set of 16 recommendations, which was published in February 2021.

Where can I find more information?

Visit the DHS page related to Improving Crisis Prevention and Response.