HARRISBURG -- Advocates are continuing to push Pennsylvania's Legislature to change the name of the state's Department of Public Welfare to the Department of Human Services.
Pennsylvania is one of only two states that continue to use the word "welfare" in the name of its state human services agency; advocates for the change say the word's negative stigma doesn't accurately convey the diverse work of the agency, which includes everything from adoption and foster care services to aid for the elderly.
The change appears to have broad bipartisan support within the General Assembly and also from a host of human services nonprofits, such as the United Way of Allegheny County.
"We just want to get this finalized and get this done," said Bob Nelkin, president of the United Way of Allegheny County.
The House and Senate passed separate legislation approving the change in June, but the Senate's version was included in a budget-related bill that was later changed by the House. Due to procedural rules, both chambers must approve the same bill, and advocates are hoping the Senate will approve the House bill this fall.
To save money, the name would change at first only within state statutes and regulations, and the DPW will continue to use the old name on badges, licenses, stationery and any other official documents until existing supplies run out, according to the House bill.
Stephen Drachler, a spokesman for the coalition pushing for the move, said he anticipates the legislation will move forward, but advocates don't want it to get "lost in the shuffle" of the fall legislative session.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said there is no current time frame to vote on the matter, although he anticipated the legislation would eventually be approved.
"Both chambers have passed bills to accomplish this," said the spokesman, Erik Arneson. "It seems like it's just a matter of time, at this point. ... I think there's a solid chance that it gets resolved this fall."
Groups in favor of the change plan to come to Harrisburg on Wednesday to continue to press lawmakers.
Kate Giammarise: email@example.com, 1-717-787-4254 and on Twitter: @KateGiammarise. First Published October 13, 2013 8:00 PM