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'Public Welfare' misnomer

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Letter to the Editor
Thursday, May 2, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

In an era of daily political contentiousness, it is refreshing to see such a broad, statewide bipartisan effort by Pennsylvania's Senate and House members to change the name of the state Department of Public Welfare (DPW) to the Department of Human Services.

The legislation's introduction by Rep. Tom Murt, R-Montgomery County, and Sens. Bob Mensch, R-Montgomery County, and Jay Costa, D-Allegheny County, is proof enough that the time has come to end the political rhetoric and focus on bringing this state into the 21st century, as so many states did 10, 20 and 30 years ago. The reason for the name change is simple — 95 percent of those whom the DPW serves and the services it provides do not involve cash-assistance “welfare” support.

The department addresses human service needs as diverse as long-term care for older adults, mental health, intellectual disabilities, behavioral health, drug addiction and domestic violence. This is not a liberal or conservative issue. It is a human issue and a reflection of what this department does.

Whether you live in Pittsburgh or Plum, Moon or Murrysville, or are one of the 2.2 million commonwealth residents who receive services directly or indirectly through the department, this is about people.

There is no time like the present to make this change.

Brian Schreiber

The writer chairs the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership (, a coalition of 340 nonprofit and corporate members.

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