Pa. DHS racial equity report shows major disparities are baked into system

By KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services released a report Thursday detailing a new effort to focus on improving racial equity in the services it provides. The report shows major disparities were baked into the system.

“Systemic racism infiltrates every single aspect of everything we do,” said Secretary Teresa Miller.

She said in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the COVID-19 pandemic, DHS turned its lens inward with the goal of examining internal policies, systems and corresponding racial disparities.

The result is in a racial equity report titled, “Leading the Fight for Justice, Equity and Opportunity for All People.

“This report is our commitment to making DHS an actively anti-racist organization,” Miller said.

According to the report, African Americans make up 12% of Pennsylvania’s population. but make up 53% of residents on public assistance, 29% of SNAP recipients and 25% of those on medical assistance.

And Black children make up 35% of those in DHS care.

“This disproportionality is the result of centuries of racism,” Miller said.

She said the agency has instituted training on how race impacts priorities, and funding for the 3 million people they serve. She said there’s a renewed effort to deal with systemic racism head on.

“And be an active partner in eliminating disparities that have been around far too long,” she added.