Among a number of big-ticket items in Governor Patrick’s FY2015 budget announcement is a $9.2 million investment in staffing and technology improvements at the Department of Children & Families. A copy of the governor’s announcement is included below, along with the statement issued by the union following preliminary review of the proposal.
SEIU Local 509 Statement on DCF Budget Announcement
“The number one priority of front-line social workers at the Department of Children & Families is keeping at-risk kids safe from abuse and neglect. That is why we have pushed so aggressively to identify and address key challenges at DCF – from crisis-level caseloads and outdated technology to insufficient resources devoted to training, support and supervision.
“Today’s announcement marks an important acknowledgment of the systemic issues front-line social workers have raised for many years. We thank Governor Patrick for taking an important first step in providing DCF social workers with the resources and tools they need to keep children safe – and we look forward to working with our partners in the legislature
to ensure the department receives the critical investments needed to fulfill its mission.“
GOVERNOR PATRICK ANNOUNCES $9.2 MILLION INVESTMENT IN DCF TO FURTHER STRENGTHEN CHILD WELFARE PRACTICES
BOSTON – Wednesday, January 22, 2014 – Governor Deval Patrick today announced a $9.2 million FY15 budget investment in the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to further enhance the agency’s work to protect the over 100,000 youth served by the Department each year and strengthen families across the Commonwealth. The investment will allow the Department to move towards its 15 to 1 caseload goals, and enhance its screening, investigation, and case review practices. In addition to the FY 15 budget funding, the Department will also provide mobile technology solutions for workers in the field.
“DCF has one of the most critical missions in government, and their workers perform countless miracles every day,” said Governor Patrick. “This investment will ensure that the Department has the resources it needs to be successful, and I look forward to working with the Legislature to support our shared goals to protect the Commonwealth’s children and families.”
MOVING FORWARD WITH 15 FAMILIES:
The Governor’s budget invests in staffing that will allow the Department to move forward with the goals outlined in the 15 Families Memorandum of Understanding signed last year between DCF and SEIU 509. The 15 Families plan will be implemented over the coming years in accordance with the agreement by meeting additional staff needs to achieve the 15 to 1 caseload goals.
“As a former social worker, I know how challenging this job can be, but I also know how rewarding it is to help a family succeed,” said DCF Commissioner Olga Roche. “Our front line workers deserve all the support we can provide, and that’s why we are moving forward with the 15 Families plan and additional technology enhancements.”
UTILIZING NEW TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS:
The Department will provide mobile technology solutions for workers that will allow them to access DCF case files remotely in the field, enhancing their ability to communicate and record information on families, and eliminating existing lag time in processing reports. This will also allow workers to quickly access sensitive and historical information and better communicate with law enforcement partners.
After the Department’s thorough review of the Oliver case, Commissioner Roche launched additional actions to strengthen engagement with children and families, including enhanced case reviews and additional communications with school districts.
The Commissioner also directed staff to screen in for investigation all allegations of abuse or neglect involving children age five and younger with young parents; or parents of any age who have a history of substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health issues, or unresolved childhood trauma. The Governor’s budget investments will allow DCF to continue these enhanced practices.
“These additional investments will ensure that DCF has the tools in place to be successful and well positioned to serve the Commonwealth’s children and families well into the future,” said Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz.
On January 9, Secretary Polanowicz announced that the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) will conduct a full, independent review of DCF over the coming months. This review will look at broad areas of DCF’s practices, including supervision, management, home visits, processing of reports of abuse and neglect, and how the Department deals with families with young children. CWLA has been provided with the flexibility and latitude they need to conduct a thorough review and will be interfacing with members of the Legislature as they work to develop action steps going forward.
“We have made great strides recently to expand kinship placements, increase adoptions and enhance foster care supports to help provide high quality services and keep our children safe,” said Commissioner Roche. “The Governor’s budget investments will help us keep this progress going to ensure the very best for our children.