Externally Produced, DHS-focused Research and Reports
Because DHS is interested in contributing to system change on the national as well as the local level, we make our data and research widely available to anyone with an interest in our services and practices. When our data is used by other experts in their own research, we make their reports available, whenever possible, on our website. Posting of external research, regardless of the results, provides an unbiased look at the outcomes of the work of DHS and further supports our commitment to transparency.
The documents below are a sampling of this research.
Research conducted by and for DHS is available on the Research and Reports page.
Transition Age Youth with Complex Needs Entering Adulthood
United Way of Allegheny
County, August 2013
Young adults who have
significant medical, intellectual, communication and/or behavioral
challenges often face barriers to living meaningful adult lives after they
leave the supportive environment of the educational system at age 21. This report
analyzes the numbers and needs of these young people, and identifies a number
of recommendations (project-based as well as advocacy) to address their unique
This report was produced by
the Adults with Complex Transitions (ACT) Project of the United
Way of Allegheny County’s 21andAble Initiative, which seeks to improve
the transition from school to adult life for youth with disabilities.
This project had its origins in the work of DHS’s Disability Connections,
which, in 2010, convened a group of professionals and parents to identify the most serious barriers to meeting the
support needs of adults with complex disabilities. In September 2012, the
United Way asked this group to serve as the advisory committee for a study of
the most-challenged transition-age youth. The attached report resulted from
Human Services: Sustained and Coordinated Efforts Could Facilitate Data-Sharing While Protecting Privacy
U.S. Government Accountability Office, February 2013
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined four innovative data sharing practices to determine (1) how selected states or localities have shared data across programs to improve the administration of human services, (2) challenges state and local human services agencies face in balancing privacy protections with greater data sharing, and (3) actions that the federal government could take to help address these challenges. Factors identified as critical to the success of data sharing agreements include strong leadership and support by both internal and external stakeholders, the organizational structure of the agency, financial support or seed funding, and a legal review or analysis.
The Allegheny County Department of Human Services Data Warehouse, which is one of the four examples included in this report, is highlighted (pp. 10-23 and Appendix 1, pp. 39-40) as an example of best practices in addressing the challenges inherent in sharing data to improve communication, practice and quality.
Youth Using Behavioral Health Services: Making the Transition from the Child to Adult System
Allegheny HealthChoices Inc., January 2013
The aim of this report was to provide a profile of youth transitioning from the child to adult service systems and to determine if this population had any patterns regarding utilization or demographic characteristics that could predict future service use. An analysis on this population provides a better understanding of how service use can indicate areas for intervention to improve the continuity of care for youth during this transition period.
Practice Innovations in Child Welfare
American Public Human Services Association, October 2012, pp. 18-19.
Asking Why - Reasserting the Role of Community Mental Health
Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, September 2011, pp. 16-17.
Framework For Collaboration: Integrating School and Human Services Data In Pittsburgh
OCD | Developments, University of Pittsburgh, July 2011, pp. 5-9.
The Allegheny HealthChoices Program 1999-2009: Improving Access and Quality of Services through Collaboration, Fiscal Management and Quality Oversight
Allegheny HealthChoices, Inc., 2010
This report details how, since 1999, financial and quality oversight activities related to behavioral health care in Allegheny County have expanded from a focus on meeting minimum requirements for managed care operations to a focus on improving access, quality and allocation of resources while monitoring efforts to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse of Medicaid funds.
Fighting Hunger While Positively Impacting the Food System - Integrating SNAP Benefits at Pittsburgh Citiparks Farmers’ Markets
Heinz College Carnegie Mellon University, May 2010.
How Are the Children? Inspiring Hope. Renewing Vision. Influencing Action. Casey Family Programs 2010 Annual Report
Casey Family Programs, 2010
Reviews the progress made toward the Casey Family Programs' 2020 Strategy which has the goal of improving supports to families so that the nation can safely reduce the need for out-of-home placement. Allegheny County is highlighted on pages 18-20.
Strategies for Improving Homeless People's Access to Mainstream Benefits and Services
Prepared for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, March 2010.
Examines the effective, inclusive, and creative mechanisms used by seven communities, including Allegheny County, to implement the HUD Supportive Housing Program Continuum of Care, specifically the strategies used to ensure that homeless individuals and families are able to receive the supportive services they need.
Advancing Data on Homelessness in Eleven Communities
Prepared for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs in the Office of Community Planning Development, February 2010.
Applauds the efforts of 11 communities across the nation to utilize their Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) to produce high quality, innovative program- and system-level data. The DHS chapter, Improving System Effectiveness by Combining Multiple Data Sources, begins on page 39.
Educating Homeless Children in Allegheny County: An Evaluation of Families, Agencies, and Services
DHS, Duquesne University School of Education, and the Homeless Children's Education Fund, 2009
Building an Interoperable Human Services System - How Allegheny County Transformed Systems, Services and Outcomes for Vulnerable Children and Families
A Case Study by Stewards of Change, October 2008
Examines the changes DHS instituted to integrate traditional human services silos for the benefit of consumers.
The State of Technology in Aging Services in Pennsylvania
Center for Aging Services Technology, American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, October 2008, pp. 35-37.
Details the efforts of the DHS Area Agency on Aging to incorporate additional assistive technologies into the lives of older adults in Allegheny County.
Effective County Practices in Jail-to-Community-Transition Planning for Offenders with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders
Reentry for Safer Communities, National Association of Counties, Bureau of Justice Assistance, September 2008, pp. 6-7.
Examines the Allegheny County Jail Collaborative, which brings together DHS, the Allegheny County Jail and Health Department, for its unique efforts to assist current and former inmates prepare for and be successful with their reintegration into the community.
A Worthy Diversion
The Politics of Mental Illness, The American Prospect Special Report, July/August 2008
Explores Allegheny County’s use of the Sequential Intercept Model, which includes Mental Health Court, to divert offenders with mental illness away from the criminal-justice system.
Mental Health Courts – How special courts can serve justice and help mentally ill offenders
U.S. News and World Report, February 7, 2008
Recounts the unique qualities of the Allegheny County Mental Health Court and the program’s success at reducing recidivism for adults with mental health diagnoses.
Time for Reform: Investing in Prevention, Keeping Children Safe At Home
Kids Are Waiting (KAW), The Pew Charitable Trusts, January 29, 2008, pg.11.
Explores how the child welfare system in Allegheny County focuses on prevention services – before children are removed from their homes – to successfully reduce the number of children in out-of-home placement.
Allegheny County Jail Collaborative Evaluation
University of Pittsburgh, January 3, 2008
Funded by the Human Services Integration Fund. The Collaborative’s vision, a collaboration of three systems working together to successfully return inmates to the community was shown to be of value in reducing both recidivism and justice-related expenses. In addition, former inmates reported a personal value in taking part in the services.
Overview Report of Allegheny County Jail Collaborative Evaluation Findings,
University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work Center on Race and Social Problems, February 8, 2008
Katz study determines DHS economic impact among tops in country,
DHS News, January 2008
University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business Study of DHS
In 2007, the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business conducted an independent analysis of the economic impact of DHS in Allegheny County. The Katz School study determined that for every $1.00 in funding that DHS contracts to organizations in Allegheny County, the Department returns $1.75 to the local Allegheny County community.
Economic Impact Study 2007 – Presentation – Katz Consulting Team
Read about the Economic Impact Study in DHS NEWS
Behavioral Health Justice-Related Services and Beyond in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
American Jails Magazine, November/December 2007
Details the best-practices programs and process the DHS Office of Behavioral Health, Division of Justice-Related Services has put into place to reduce recidivism and improve community safety through the five-level Sequential Intercept Model that diverts persons with mental health and substance use disorders away from incarceration and into treatment and attentive case management.
2007 KIDS COUNT Data Book
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, July 2007, pp. 11-12.
Applauds Allegheny County’s investment in intensive, community- and home-based prevention services for families at risk of child abuse and/neglect.
On the Move: Helping Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Needs Transition to Adulthood - Partnerships for Youth Transitions (PYT)
National Network on Youth Transition for Behavioral Health, June, 2007
Examines, in brief, the results of the Partnerships for Youth Transitions initiatives funded by SAMHSA in five communities across the country, including Allegheny County.
Justice, Treatment, and Cost: An Evaluation of the Fiscal Impact of Allegheny County Mental Health Court
RAND Corporation, March 1, 2007
Presents findings from a RAND Corporation fiscal impact study of the Allegheny County Mental Health Court that indicate that utilizing Mental Health Court is a fiscally prudent alternative to incarceration for offenders with mental illness.
An Effective Child Welfare System and Evidence-based Practice for the Child Welfare System
National Family Preservation Network, October 2006
Proposes that other systems examine and adapt the DHS Office of Children, Youth and Families’ practice of utilizing innovative, evidence-based practices in the child welfare system to improve outcomes for children and families.