Caseworkers Make a Case for More Child Welfare Funding
Monday, February 18, 2013
PORTLAND, Ore. - More state requirements and fewer people to carry them out. That's how child welfare workers summarize what's happening in Oregon, and they're in Salem today to make their case to lawmakers.
For two years, they have been under a hiring freeze like many state agencies, with two caseworkers doing the work of three. Add a challenging new software system, and mandates to remedy racial inequalities in the foster care system and find more relatives to place children with – and Barbara Casey, an in-home caseworker at the Alberta Child Welfare office in north Portland, said they have their hands full.
"All of that, they're all good mandates, all good goals: preserving families, reunifying families, strengthening them," she said. "It's just compounded to get to it, when you just don't have enough people there."
Almost 1,300 case workers respond to more than 75,000 reports of child abuse and neglect in Oregon, and they supervise about 13,000 children in foster care. Gov. John Kitzhaber's proposed budget for Child Welfare services would bring the agency to 80 percent of its staffing needs, up from a current level of 67 percent.
One area affected by the staffing cuts is the amount of time at-risk parents can spend with their children, Casey said. The visits have to be supervised, she explained, and there aren't enough workers - called social service assistants - to meet the needs. Child welfare workers play an important role for Oregon families, she added, and many resent being called "bureaucrats" during budget debates.
"We're not pushing papers - we are intervening at a very difficult time in people's lives," she said. "To me, it's a sacred trust. I have children and I have moms and dads that I want to reunite and keep at home."
The governor's budget includes money for a new approach to dealing with suspected child abuse cases that focuses on early intervention for families and keeping children out of foster care. The number of suspected child abuse cases in Oregon has risen for a decade, which could mean that more people are coming forward to report abuse and neglect.
get more stories like this via email
DENVER - On Wednesday, leaders from Colorado's 13 community colleges joined a national effort to help more of the state's adults get credentials and …
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Today, a virtual summit hosted by the Las Vegas Mayor's Faith Initiative looks at the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous …
HOUSTON -- Many U.S. communities with bustling downtowns were better prepared to weather economic fallout from the pandemic, thanks to a decades-old …
MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- A Wisconsin group that advocates for working families is launching a new campaign, which connects federal policy to the …
SEATTLE - Constructive conversations online can seem few and far between. Research from the University of Washington explores how the design of …
Health and Wellness
WATERLOO, Iowa -- Advocates for Iowans with disabilities are sounding the alarm over what they describe as a caregiver crisis, pleading with …
BRAINERD, Minn. - Minnesota boat owners are storing their watercraft for the winter. But that isn't stopping the conversation about responsible water …
BOISE, Idaho - Millions of members around the world, including some Idahoans, are observing International Credit Union Day today. This year marks 73…