By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia has vastly improved its child welfare system in the last year.

The proof came on Thursday, when the state restored the city’s full license, one year after downgrading it to provisional status.

It was a rare occasion for the beleaguered system to celebrate.

“Everybody knows what kind of moment this is, right? Everybody with me? Woo-hoo!” said Human Services Commissioner Cynthia Figueroa in celebration.

Figueroa inherited a mess when she became commissioner in September. A shift to outside caseworkers had brought a steep increase in the number of children in care, resulting in overloaded social workers, high turnover, delayed placements and, thus, even more children in care.

State Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas says she accomplished a great deal in a short period of time.

“We’re seeing supervisors and case workers working together to get to decisions that are in the best interests of children. We’re seeing the commissioner usher in a new era of accountability and performance based management,” he said.

Dallas says there are still too many children staying overnight in the DHS office, but he believes the department is on the path to assuring the best outcomes for children.

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