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Lackawanna County human services director replaced

Lackawanna County Commissioners have appointed an interim director of health and human services, and will hire a consultant to examine the Office of Youth and Family Services after firing the department’s previous director.

Barbara Durkin, director of the Lackawanna/Susquehanna office of drugs and alcohol, will fill the role vacated by Bill Browning. Commissioners terminated Browning on Wednesday.

The Department of Human Services oversees the Office of Youth and Family Services. In June of 2023, following a year-long investigation five employees of the child protection agency were charged with endangering the welfare of children and failure to report or refer cases of suspected child abuse.

The commissioners said they will hire former Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Human Services Beverly D. Mackereth of Mackereth Consulting to examine the policies, procedures, and administration of the Office of Youth and Family Services.

Commissioner Matt McGloin said their priority was to evaluate the department as a whole.

“Now, we are committed to strengthening the operation and programs the department offers to area children and families,” McGloin said in a statement.