Good Life

Q&A with Julia Sprinkle

Julia Sprinkle is the Director for Centre County Children and Youth Services.
Julia Sprinkle is the Director for Centre County Children and Youth Services. CDT photo

Being responsible for a child is a big job. Being responsible for the welfare of all the kids in Centre County?

A little bit bigger.

Julia Sprinkle, the director of Centre County Children and Youth Services, took time to answer a slate of questions via email about her office, its mission and the Ethel Beaver Fund, a pool of money that helps the agency take care of kids in ways that sometimes are overlooked.

As we head into prom season, into Little League, into time to sign up for swimming lessons and summer camp, it’s also an opportunity to remember the children who don’t have parents in their homes to handle these things that seem so much a basic part of growing up. Sprinkle addressed the importance of giving youth the opportunity to have those normal childhood experiences that might be taken for granted.

Explain what your office’s job is.

The purpose of the Centre County Office of Children and Youth Services is to provide high-quality services to keep children safe and to help prepare them for life. The office works with families in which there are problems concerning the safety and well-being of their children, to identify problem areas and to effectively address and assist with the resolution of such problem areas.

If it is a case of suspected abuse or neglect of children, the office determines if the allegation is valid, and takes the necessary steps to protect the child.

If parents are unable or unwilling to provide care to their children and there are no other feasible alternatives, placement services are provided.

Why is it important?

Children are vulnerable and need to be protected. Ideally, that protection comes from their family. Sometimes parents/caretakers need support and education to learn how to care for and protect their children.

We help numerous families by funding programs through the Youth Service Bureau and Family Intervention Crisis Services. By partnering with these agencies, we are able to provide services that are unique to the needs of the family without the stigma of being involved with (CYS).

What happens to kids who are placed in foster care in Centre County?

In order for a child to be placed into the care and custody of CYS, a judge must issue an order. An initial hearing is held within 72 hours of the placement, with an additional hearing to follow within 10 days. Once the order placing the child is obtained, the child is placed in an approved foster home, group home or shelter depending on the needs of the child.

If more than one child within a family is placed, every effort is made to keep siblings together. However, due to a limited number of foster homes, that isn’t always possible. We utilize an intensive reunification program in attempts to alleviate the reasons that necessitated the placement and to achieve permanency for a child as quickly as possible. Visits with the child’s parents and siblings are also provided, as deemed appropriate.

What is the Ethel Beaver Fund? How does it make a difference in kids’ lives?

The Ethel Beaver Children’s Fund has been in existence since 1948. Its sole purpose is to provide funds for Centre County children in the care of Centre County Children and Youth Services.

Although the federal, state and county governments provide funds toward food, clothing, shelter and medical care, these funds are not enough to provide everything that a child needs to nurture (his or her) development as a parent normally would.

Foster parents provide love and guidance in abundance for free; however, many foster families have several foster children, in addition to their biological children, in their care.

The costs of activities such as Little League (registration and equipment), music lessons, graduation, proms, summer camp, Christmas presents, etc. are often limited for foster children.

The Ethel Beaver Children’s Fund attempts to provide funding for these activities, as well as help to supplement activities that foster families wish to do as a family, such as vacations, trips to amusement parks and sporting events.

The fund is administered by the Advisory Board of Children and Youth Services. Funds are derived strictly from donations, and 100 percent of the money donated goes to the children and foster families.

There are no expenses because board members donate their time and abilities. They do this because they feel that children in placement should have the same advantages as other children and should not feel deprived.

How can people make a donation?

Tax-deductible donations to the Ethel Beaver Fund may be sent to: The Ethel Beaver Children’s Fund c/o Centre County Children and Youth Services, 420 Holmes St., Willowbank Building, Bellefonte, PA 16823.

How can people help CYS in other ways?

People can help CYS by becoming foster parents simply by calling our office. People can be aware, call either CYS or Childline when they have concerns about the safety or well-being of a child.

Because our work with families is confidential, we often are not able to follow up with reporting sources to let them know how the allegations were addressed. However, if a problem continues, call again. Don’t assume that a report was already made. Your information may be the one element needed to complete the bigger picture.

Get involved in your community; participate in Darkness to Light; be a Big Brother or Big Sister; take part in fundraisers for the Youth Service Bureau, Children’s Advocacy Center or United Way. By supporting these programs, you are in effect not only helping CYS but helping children and families within our community.