Child protective workers continue to sound alarm about heavy caseloads
Child protective workers in Monroe County continue to voice their concerns about heavy caseloads which they say have put the community's most vulnerable children at risk.
CPS workers and members of the faith community plan to speak during the public comment section of tonight's county legislature meeting.
John Rabish, a spokesman for the Monroe County Federation of Social Workers, says caseloads started to soar more than two years ago when the county discontinued its local child abuse hotline, transferring those duties to the state.
"The reputation in the community from people who call in reports is that the state will take anything. There was a report received a couple of months ago because a young boy was wearing his pants too low and the (caller) was concerned the boy would trip over his pants because they were sagging."
Rabish said CPS is obligated to thoroughly investigate all cases, not only for the sake of the child named in the report, but every child in the household. He said when the hotline was under local control, experienced social workers did the screening and made the distinction between frivolous reports and those requiring further investigation. Some CPS workers, Rabish said, are carrying caseloads numbering 60 to 70, while experts in the field recommend no more than 12 to 15 at a time.
Monroe County added 18 CPS workers in the past year, but Rabish said that is not enough positions to even fill existing vacancies.
"We've had six workers leave Child Protective since the legislative meeting in May,” Rabish said. “Worker morale has never been any lower; they don't feel supported. One of the actions the county took in their efforts to reduce caseloads was to mandate the workers to do overtime. All that did was to place additional pressure and stress on workers who were already feeling overwhelmed."
WXXI News has contacted a county spokesman who has not yet responded to a request for further comment.