County Lawmakers Approve Hiring 37 New CPS Employees
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Erie County Legislators have approved the hiring of 37 new child protective services employees. But they call for more oversight from the Department of Social Services.
The Majority Caucus called for an amendment for additional oversight requirements from the department to ensure improvements are being made.
“The need for additional caseworkers was never questioned by the Legislature. Members of the current Majority Caucus advocated and asked for more caseworkers in September 2013, but were told those positions were not necessary by the administration and Commissioner Dankert-Maurer. My colleagues and I agree that we need more boots on the ground to adequately investigate each case and to protect possible victims. However, the issue is how the commissioner and managers are assisting caseworkers to ensure they have the necessary tools to help our most vulnerable residents,” said Majority Leader Joe Lorigo. “In September, 2013, we heard from the department that seven caseworkers would address the issues and that three additional, qualified managers would be hired to get CPS on the right track. Since that time, we have seen additional tragedy. The Legislature has a responsibility to question this plan, the commissioner and CPS managers. This plan alone will not solve the greater problems in the department, but it is a step in the right direction.”
“I have been contacted by a number of current caseworkers in CPS over the past few weeks. I was told that for years they have told supervisors that they are overwhelmed with cases. This isn’t a recent trend and it should have been addressed earlier. I don’t think we have the needed leadership currently in Social Services to address the many issues we face and this is why questions need to be asked. I am disappointed that the Poloncarz administration is not willing to hold leadership accountable at this time, with that being said, I hope this plan helps solve the immediate problem of caseloads. But long-term, we need to address the problems of the department as a whole, and we need to support these ground level workers every step of the way,” said Chairman John Mills.
“We need to know that the caseworkers are getting the training and support they need to best do their job. It is to be expected that the commissioner would have a strategic approach to prepare caseworkers for the field and to ensure these employees are protecting children. We can’t just throw money at the problem and expect all these issues to be resolved, there has to be a plan from the leadership in Social Services,” said Legislator Ted Morton.