September 25, 2009

Where budget cuts should not come from

I sent the following email to my county legislator, and a close variant to those legislators whose campaigns I worked on. I urge you to also contact your county legislator (mail, email, phone, whatever), whether it is this issue (child welfare) or whatever you feel is vital and needs protection in our County budget.

Dear Mr. Warner,

As one of your constituents, I am writing to you on an issue that is of importance to me and which I have some firsthand knowledge of. I was watching the news last night. The news of a conviction in the Erin Maxwell case was followed shortly by a story talking about how the budget cuts being made propose that child protective workers have their hours reduced.

As a former child protective worker and as someone who still knows most of the staff, this situation alarms me. As I understand it from the report, the workers doing the investigations, determining if there is indeed abuse or not, are exempt from this. This means it would apply to those workers dealing with the long term providing of services. In short, this means that those workers dealing with families where the investigators found there was an issue, and found that the family needs some help, would be the workers that are affected. Investigations often get priority, and to a certain degree this makes sense, as any report has to have a response within 24 hours according to state mandate, and as we quickly have to determine whether there is an issue or not, and in some cases this is a matter of life or death. However, the workers that will be affected by this cut in hours are the workers we have monitoring those families where we have already determined there are some issues. They have mandates from the state as well, with the state mandating the number of times per month or months when family members have to be seen in person. Additionally, the hour cut on these workers will end up impacting the investigators as well, as investigator caseloads will increase due to the additional time it will take to transfer the case on to the long term worker (caused by those workers increased work load in decreased time).

This comes at a time when, as the report mentions, caseloads are increasing due to high profile cases making the news. Additionally, what the report did not cover, was that the summer is typically a time of less reports. Reports rise after the school year has got underway (due to school teachers being able to see the children on a regular basis and notice the signs of possible abuse), and my friends in the department have told me that this increase in cases is most definitely starting up again. Please take this under consideration when determining the county's budget.

1 comment:

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