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New York to Revamp Training for Child Welfare Caseworkers

New York officials undertake efforts to revamp training for child-welfare caseworkers. (Griszka Niewiadomski/
New York officials undertake efforts to revamp training for child-welfare caseworkers. (Griszka Niewiadomski/
February 3, 2016

CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. - The state of New York plans to revamp the way it trains child welfare caseworkers.

The Office of Children and Family Services has created a panel to make recommendations for how best to do it, following a federal audit of child-welfare outcomes in which New York did not fare well. However, Ontario County Commissioner of Social Services Eileen Tiberio, who sits on the panel, said it also was created to address the changing needs of the population, including the recent surge in opioid addictions.

"We had a significant jump in our foster care population here in Ontario County last year, specifically around heroin epidemics," she said. "That brings a whole different kind of attention to addiction and its implications for children, when their parents can't be adequate caretakers."

Tiberio said federal guidelines can conflict with the time it takes to find permanent homes for children whose parents are addicted but are seeking treatment, which can reflect poorly on a federal audit. She said the state hopes to begin the new training in 2017.

Tiberio said the panel also will make recommendations about ways caseworkers, with their various academic backgrounds, can all receive the same, most updated training through a streamlined process.

"Research is always coming out about what's most effective, what drives dynamics in families," she said. "It's always a good idea to take a look at this every once in a while, to make sure that we're capturing the information that we need to capture, and that we're training people in the most effective way."

She said the Children and Family Services field overall has a high turnover rate that can create significant backlogs for caseworkers, so the panel also will look at ways to retain more caseworkers.

More information about New York's child-welfare outcomes can be found here and here.

Nia Hamm, Public News Service - NY