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Annual Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network Conference Celebrates Second Chances

News for Immediate Release

July 9, 2014

Lancaster – Secretary of Public Welfare Beverly Mackereth attended an annual conference today where she acknowledged and awarded the efforts of families and professionals that have changed the lives of thousands of children adopted through the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN).

The 22nd Annual Pennsylvania Permanency Conference is a three-day forum, under this year’s theme of “Finding Futures”, being hosted by SWAN at the Lancaster Host Resort and Conference Center today through Friday, July 11.

In addition to informative sessions, SWAN will be unveiling part two of #MeetTheKids, a PSA-style campaign developed in 2013 in order to increase awareness of older youth adoption in PA.

“We are so excited to premiere the launch of next edition of #MeetTheKids,” Mackereth said. “Last year’s campaign featured older youth in the foster care system, and to date, six of those 12 kids, in addition to countless others who weren’t featured, have been matched as a result.”

The permanency conference serves as a forum to train and support child welfare professionals, as well as current and prospective foster or adoptive families, providers and other interested stakeholders. It also includes an awards ceremony.

“I am so honored to recognize those who work tirelessly to help our deserving children and youth achieve permanent connections,” Mackereth said. “But we know there is still much work to do. We are confident that this conference will equip and inspire attendees to continue their important work and find so many Pennsylvania children their forever families.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare oversees the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network, the host of the annual Permanency Conference.

Learn more online at, or follow SWAN on Facebook at “Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network”. 

Media contact:  Kait Gillis, 717-425-7606

Editor’s Note:  This year’s award winners include:

Permanent Family Recognition Award

Families selected for this award have provided legalized permanency for a child or children in the child welfare system: 

·         Thomas and Anne Lavelle, Allegheny County

·         Terry and Gloria Kshir, Tioga County

·         Mida Gilbert, Adams County

·         George and Crystal Dufour, Allegheny County

·         Mark and Daniele Mellott, Franklin County

Permanency Teamwork Recognition

Teams selected to receive this award exemplify a collaborative effort that promotes the permanency of children with special needs:

·         Melanie Rehrig, Diakon Adoption and Foster Care

·         Gillian Morford, Bethany Christian Services

·         Melissa Senick, Berks County Children and Youth Services

Permanency Advocate Recognition

This award recognizes a dynamic individual that demonstrates a commitment to building cooperative relationships that expedite the permanency process:

·         Jamari Lyzette Hernandez-Sodano, Lehigh County

Independent Living Professional Recognition

The individual selected for this award has demonstrated that they have helped youth transition into a successful contributing member of society:

·         Pam Lessman, Fayette County Children and Youth Services

Permanency Professional Recognition

Individuals selected to receive this award are permanency professionals working in a public or private child welfare agency:

·         Jocelyn Hontz, Lehigh County Office of Children and Youth Services

Philanthropy Recognition

The organization selected to receive this award demonstrates a charitable contribution that promotes the permanency of children in foster care:

·         The Robert C. Hoffman Charitable Endowment Trust



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