Department of Children & Families

Forms for retirement application (Form 30s): Social Worker A/B, Social Worker C, and Social Worker D.

March is National Social Work Month!

Each and every day, social workers confront some of the most challenging issues facing individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth. Together, they serve some our most vulnerable populations — tackling the opioid crisis, keeping at-risk children safe, providing critical mental health services and more. Whether directly or indirectly, we’ve all been touched their critical work.
That’s why National Social Worker Appreciation Month is so important: it is time to recognize the immeasurable impact these talented professionals have in our communities.

Join Governor Charlie Baker, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, State Senate President Stan Rosenberg and many others in sending your message of thanks today. Use the links above to tweet, send an e-card or post your photo. Let’s show our social workers just how much their work is appreciated in Massachusetts!

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DCF UPDATE: Hiring, Intake Policies and the Caseload Crisis

We write to provide updates on our union initiatives and joint Labor-Management efforts designed to address the ongoing caseload crisis at the Department of Children & Families.

To be clear, the caseload crisis is still a very real threat to the work we do each day at DCF. While we have seen initial progress as a result of recent hiring and policy changes, we have an incredibly long road ahead. And though everyone fully acknowledges the fact that major reform and investments were long overdue, we also recognize that the Department didn’t get into this situation overnight. It will take time to fully address the challenges we face in child protection and family support.

 ROADMAP TO ADDRESS THE DCF CASELOAD CRISIS

Our top priority as a union has been to tackle the caseload crisis head-on, and the Administration has joined us in a host of efforts to overhaul misguided polices, and to better recruit and retain front-line staff. Together, we have pursued a three-pronged approach in recent months — a roadmap to address this crisis:

1. Significant investments to hire front-line social workers. 

Changing intake policies and other procedures are important, but we all know that DCF couldn’t even begin to address the caseload crisis without hiring additional staff. This is a point our union has driven home time and again over the course of the last two years — through thousands of phone calls and emails to legislators,  in-the-streets actions outside our offices, and in face-to-face meetings with key decision-makers.

As a result of our advocacy, the Department has hired hundreds of new workers over the last two years. In the budget released last week, Governor Baker has again proposed an increase in the DCF social worker line item — bringing the total funding for front-line staff to $223 million. This represents a $20 million increase over last Fiscal Year, and amounts to nearly $60 million invested since our union’s campaign began.  

The House and Senate have yet to formally weigh in on the budget, though legislative leaders have consistently pledged to  ensure the Department receives all necessary funding for front-line hires.

In any case, a FY17 budget floor of $223 million would allow for nearly 300 additional front-line social workers, investigators and supervisors in the coming months.

Make no mistake, we’re not out of the woods yet. But, by any stretch, our shared effort has led to historic investments in staffing at DCF.

2. Retain experienced, talented staff.  

Complicating our initial hiring success is the Department’s 50% attrition rate — meaning for every two new workers we hire, one new or veteran social worker leaves the department. This level of attrition would be unsustainable under the best of circumstances, let alone while facing record-high caseloads. 

As part of our union’s reform initiative, we created a joint Labor-Management committee with the Administration to focus exclusively on recruitment and retention at DCF.  Several recommendations from this group are being finalized this week, and will be presented to the Commissioner and Secretary shortly thereafter. Stay tuned for an announcement soon. 

Also as a result of the committee’s work, the Department has hosted hiring fairs to interview — and in many cases, hire on-the-spot — for positions within significantly affected regions. (Veteran state workers can attest to the fact that this is an entirely new approach to hiring, and will certainly expedite the process of bringing new staff on board.) It should be noted that our union also re-negotiated the job specifications to broaden the degrees accepted to work for DCF — bringing back criminal justice and adding broader human service degree categories.

The DCF Recruitment & Retention Committee will continue to meet monthly, so be sure to be in touch with any ideas or suggestions you may have. We need as much on-the-ground expertise as possible in this effort!


3. A return to commonsense child protection policies.

For years, front-line social workers called for an overhaul of DCF policies — for a return to commonsense child protective work.

The need for real reform was only underscored by the Department’s turn toward knee-jerk decision making in the wake of the Jeremiah Oliver tragedy, as memos and directives issued by former Commissioner Roche essentially demanded automatic screen-ins and supports. Those of us on the front lines knew this was a dangerous way to do business, and we did everything we could to push back against the directives since the day they were issued.

Fast forward to today, and we have a new Intake Policy that incorporates many necessary changes to the priorities and procedures that guide our day-to-day work. These reforms represent one small part of a larger plan to address caseloads by getting back to bringing in only the cases that truly need state intervention.  

Still, it is no secret that training and implementation of these new policies will be a challenge.
History tells us that some managers will continue direct staff to screen in, support, or leave open cases that DCF has should not be involved with. To this end, we need your help: please contact your Lead Steward or Regional VP immediately when this happens, so that we can ensure policies are implemented in the spirit by which they were created.

 

Know that all three of these things are happening simultaneously — and none are happening in a vacuum. What gives us hope is that this Administration has: 

  • acknowledged that we have the worst caseload crisis in the agency’s history; and 
  • is working with front-line staff to create a comprehensive plan
    (as briefly outlined above) to attack these issues

Time will tell if this approach will be sufficient to fully address the caseload crisis, though we have already seen initial progress as statewide weighted averages begin to tick downward.  In any case, we all know these are not overnight fixes — there’s no such thing as a ‘quick fix’ to such serious challenges, after all. But inaction simply isn’t an option, and these are important first steps.

 FOSTER CARE, ONGOING POLICY AND OTHER REFORMS

While we all feel the weight of record-high caseloads every day, we also know full-well that another crisis looms in our foster care system. Simply put: we are in desperate need of more foster homes. And while bringing on staff dedicated to recruitment is an important step, additional action will no doubt be necessary. 

Our DCF Chapter Executive Board recently created a new Foster Care Recruitment & Retention Committee to brainstorm new approaches to address the shortfall in safe foster homes.  We are in the process of scheduling our first meeting, so please contact Committee Chair Rob Bullock if you are interested in participating. 

The next major project for our joint Labor-Management team is a full re-write of the Department’s “Ongoing Policy” — a policy that does not currently exist in final form. Work also begins soon on a new “In-Home Family Policy” to create parameters for our efforts among the 80% of families whose children remain at home. Similar to the Intake Policy, our union will host regional forums to solicit input for the bargaining team on areas we should address in these policies.  Contact your Regional Vice President for more information. (It is anticipated that policies will be drafted by late March, with implementation in the ensuing months.) 

Another initiative currently underway is our revitalized Multi-Lingual & Multi-Cultural Committee — a joint Labor-Management group that hopes to address issues of caseload and workload impact for staff and clients. This committee is also looking into the potential for racial bias in the Social Work License exam. If you’re interested in this committee contact Committee Co-chairs Ethel Everett and Nancy Ayapan.

 

 NEXT STEPS

We hope this update provides a bit of insight into our union’s efforts to tackle the serious challenges we face at the Department of Children & Families. From safe staffing levels to policy reform, our team is working hard to bring long-overdue change to the Commonwealth’s child protection efforts — and we can’t underscore enough the power of your continued advocacy on these issues. It has made a world of difference.

As always, our Regional Vice Presidents will continue to work with stewards on office-specific issues, but please reach out to anyone on the DCF Chapter leadership team with questions, comments or concerns about our statewide efforts. 

Stay tuned for more information on these and other initiatives in the coming weeks — and thank you for all you’ve done to bring us to this point. With your help and dedication, we can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel at DCF.

In solidarity,

Peter MacKinnon
DCF Chapter President

Adriana Zwick
Metro Region Vice President

Ethel Everett
Western Region Vice President

Rob Bullock
Boston Region Chapter President

Khrystian King
Central Region Vice President

Julie Cardoza-Pietruszka
Southeast Region Vice President

 

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DCF Intake & Supervision Policy Update

This morning, I joined Governor Baker, Secretary Sudders and Commissioner Spears to announce our new Intake and Supervision policies at the Department of Children & Families. These policies represent weeks of intensive work and collaboration between DCF administrators and a team made up of rank-and-file union members and leaders. And, once implemented, I believe these reforms will begin to bring our agency back to a commonsense approach to child protection — one those of us on the front lines have pushed for years.

Formal versions of these policies will be published shortly, and there will no doubt be many questions between now and then. I want to make sure everyone sees the reform synopsis that was released today, with more details to come soon.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE INTAKE AND SUPERVISION REFORM OVERVIEW.

There are two key points to keep in mind as we review the new Intake and Supervision changes:

  1. The completion of these policies today does not mean that implementation begins tomorrow. Training and implementation will need to be done in a well-planned, thoughtful manner to ensure key reforms are executed as intended — and successfully. We will continue to work closely with the Commissioner’s office to develop a comprehensive rollout plan, and will keep everyone updated as that progresses.
  2. If implemented correctly, these reforms will help reduce our caseloads on the front lines — not increase them. Many have feared that a new intake policy would only mean more screen-ins and more cases. That is not the case. The policy was written to ensure that we screen and respond ONLY to those cases that need to be brought in.

We know there will be more questions as the policies are released and digested by the field. Know that we will work with DCF to help explain these reforms, to help develop effective training for the field, and to ensure that everything we have fought for is implemented as intended.

Stay tuned for more details in the coming days — and thank you for all you’ve done to bring us to this point.

In solidarity,

Peter MacKinnon
Supervisor, Lowell DCF
DCF Chapter President, SEIU Local 509

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Child Protection Workers’ Statement on DCF Auburn Developments

WATERTOWN – The Massachusetts Human Service Workers Union, SEIU Local 509, released the following statement today regarding recent developments at the Department of Children & Families. The statement is attributable to Peter MacKinnon, the union’s DCF Chapter President and a veteran social work supervisor in the agency’s Lowell office. MacKinnon has worked in child protection for nearly two decades.

“As a union of social workers and investigators, we go to work each day with a sole focus on keeping at-risk kids safe. We spend significant time with the children in our care, and we are deeply affected by tragedies like the case that has unfolded in Auburn. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and loved ones affected by this tragic passing.

“Without exception, child protection workers believe in accountability. Whether systemic challenges or individual action, any factor that plays a role in a tragedy must be fully investigated and addressed accordingly. This case is no different, and we will continue to work with law enforcement and the Administration to ensure appropriate action is taken.”

 

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SEIU Local 509 represents more than 18,000 human service workers and educators throughout the commonwealth, including front-line social workers, investigators and supervisors at the Department of Children & Families. SEIU 509 members provide a variety of social services to elders, at-risk children and people with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities — as well as educational opportunities from early learning to higher education. Local 509 is part of the Service Employees International Union, the fastest-growing labor union in the United States. For more information, visit http://seiu509.org.

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A Blueprint for True Reform and Investment at DCF

Globe DCF Press Conference_580p 92815On Monday, our DCF Chapter Leadership Team stood with Governor Baker, Secretary Sudders and Commissioner Spears at the State House to announce an unprecedented collaboration between front-line social workers, investigators and supervisors and the administration [click here to read my full remarks].

Those of us on the front lines have pushed for many of the reforms and investments outlined today since the mid-80s. We’ve advocated for significant changes to the funding, practice and policies of child protection work in Massachusetts. We took to the streets, lobbied our legislators and petitioned a series of Commissioners and Governors for change. But DCF administrators instead pursued patchwork attempts at reform that created a patchwork of misguided directives, confusing memos and disjointed policies.

We know first-hand the chaotic result these initiatives have had on our day-to-day work. We’ve operated without clear guidance on policies or best practices. The worsening caseload crisis and knee-jerk directives have often reduced our efforts to “drive-by” social work. Our managers are left to figure out how to interpret and carry out the agency’s mission on an office-by-office basis. And the children and families we serve get caught up in the mix.

Once executed, this partnership will bring deep, systemic reforms and tangible staffing assistance to DCF — meaningful changes we have called for over many years. We will eliminate confusing and contradictory directives, establish new policies based on best practices, and follow through on the governor’s personal pledge to devote the resources needed to reduce caseloads. Through true collaboration, we’ll bring the focus of our agency to core mission of our work: child protection. With a clear focus, increased resources and systemic reform, I believe we can count on positive outcomes for the kids we serve throughout the Commonwealth.

Below, I’ve included a summary of several of the proposals we discussed today — each of which will be negotiated and finalized in the coming weeks and months.

INTAKE POLICY OVERHAUL

As front line social workers and investigators have long known, the “front door” of our agency is broken. Some managers believe there is a lesser legal threshold for screening cases to an Initial Assessment track that an Investigation track (there’s not). Others think that cases on the Initial Assessment track are not protective cases (they are). If we cannot fix the front door, the backbone of what we do, attempts at reform elsewhere in the agency will fail.

Today, we announced plans to overhaul the entire intake policy at DCF. This rewrite will focus on “getting back to basics” and returning our primary focus to child protection. This does not mean that we will screen in every case, support every allegation or seek custody of every child with whom the agency comes in contact. To the contrary, we will institute a policy that gets back to a commonsense approach to child protection in a way that respects “the art of child protective social work.”

Once finalized, the front line will receive a common set of expectations for screening and investigation of reports for all area offices. We will finally have a clear, concrete and inclusive set of guidelines for our work. This is needed to ensure that children are safe.

 

RESTORATION OF SOCIAL WORK TECHNICIANS

Those who are new to the agency may be unaware of an important job function that exists on paper at DCF, but had not been funded for several years. When active in our offices, Social Worker Technicians can supervise visits, transport children to and from appointments, bring children to new placements, enroll them in school, and a myriad of other jobs that — while important — are incredibly time-consuming.

Filling these key positions means we will soon have staff available to free up social workers and investigators from these time-consuming tasks — meaning we can spend more time in the field seeing children and assessing risk. We’ve called for the restoration of this position for years, since they were cut following the economic downturn.

By bringing Social Work Techs back online, we will provide immediate concrete relief for social workers in the field. Additionally, the administration has agreed that those who have been unsuccessful in obtaining their social work license will be allowed to fill these positions, in order to continue to provide valuable services to the kids we serve.

 

RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION OF FRONT-LINE STAFF

While DCF has been hiring at an unprecedented rate in recent months, attrition remains at nearly 50%. This is unsustainable and unsafe for children. It takes time to learn how to do this job. When too many experienced workers, investigators and supervisors leave, the institutional knowledge of the agency is diminished. When a social worker leaves, their caseload must be redistributed. Those who stay are left to pick up the pieces. This impacts morale and makes an already difficult job that much more difficult. Ignoring the reasons staff leave DCF is simply rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic while the band plays on.

Through the creation of a Joint Labor-Management Committee on Staff Retention and Recruitment, we will partner with DCF to conduct an analysis of why people are leaving (you and I can certainly guess), which offices have been hardest hit by departures and what we can do to reduce attrition to a sustainable level.

This does not mean agency hires will slow in any way. Governor Baker has personally pledged to devote all necessary resources to ensure safe caseloads at DCF, and he recently backed up this promise with a request for an additional $5 million reserve for staffing.

 

STRENGTHEN SUPERVISION POLICY

As it stands, our supervision policy only states that social workers and supervisors are supposed to meet to talk about cases. There is no policy that explains the expectations of APMs providing supervision to supervisors. There are no guidelines for what is to be discussed in supervision on any level. This is wholly insufficient in a profession that, by its nature, demands that many eyes examine each family’s circumstances to ensure nothing is missed when assessing child safety and related risks.

Like the intake policy overhaul, we will create a clear, concrete set of expectations for supervision at all levels of the agency to ensure that workers get the support and guidance they need from their supervisor; supervisors get appropriate, clear guidance from APMs; and that all levels of the agency are communicating effectively and working together toward our shared goal of keeping kids safe.

 

ELIMINATE THE FOSTER CARE BACKLOG

We are all acutely aware of the lack of safe, loving foster homes available for kids in need. We all have spent time bringing a child to a foster home that has only agreed to keep that child for a night, while we continue the daunting search for a long-term foster home. The backlog of homes awaiting final approval is not good for our work, and most importantly is devastating for kids in need of a stable home. To help with the overflow, DCF will task our existing Adoption Homestudy Contract Agencies with tackling the foster care backlog.

Know that this a limited engagement that is only intended to address shortfalls until Family Resource teams are fully staffed. Agency administrators understand we face a unique situation that required a unique response, and contract work will sunset on June 30, 2016. Similarly, this work will be limited solely to the backlog of homestudies awaiting approval.

Recruitment and hiring of Family Resource Social Workers will continue during this time, working towards staffing up to level in compliance with the Family Resource Caseload Agreement in Supplemental Agreement Q. In the interim, this short-term assistance will provide immediate relief for overburdened Family Resource staff while licensing additional foster homes that are so desperately needed.

 

NEXT STEPS

All of the above are targeted for completion by November 17 of this year. This is an ambitious timeline, but one that is crucial to ensuring the families and children with whom we work get the best our agency has to offer. We’ve been calling for these reforms for years, and we cannot afford to wait for a new fiscal year, commission or other delay.

There will no doubt be many questions as we move forward with our effort to bring true reform to child protection in Massachusetts. Our DCF Chapter Leadership Team has assembled a group to work on the intake policy and we will be looking to you for help on other initiatives in the coming days and weeks.

We’ll share additional details as they become available, but please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or your Regional Vice President should you have questions or comments in the meantime — or if you would like to get involved in any of the committees gathering to tackle these important issues.

We are entering a time of significant and long-awaited change at the Department of Children and Families, and I know each of you are more than ready to tackle the challenges ahead. I am truly excited for this opportunity to make Massachusetts a national leader in child protection once again. We can all agree the children and families we serve deserve nothing less.

Thank you for all you’ve done to bring us this far — and for all you do each day to keep at-risk children safe.

 

In Solidarity,

Peter MacKinnon
DCF Chapter President

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SEIU Local 509 Statement on DCF Hardwick Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 4, 2015
Contact: Jason A Stephany, (617) 286-4430, jstephany@seiu509.org

WATERTOWN, MA – The Massachusetts Human Service Workers Union, SEIU Local 509, released the following statement on the Hardwick report and subsequent recommendations issued today by the Baker Administration. The statement is attributable to Peter MacKinnon, the union’s DCF Chapter President and a veteran social work supervisor in the agency’s Lowell office. MacKinnon has worked in child protection for nearly two decades.

“From the ongoing caseload crisis to disjointed policies and communication shortfalls, today’s report highlights the real and immediate need to address the serious, systemic challenges that persist at the Department of Children & Families.

“We applaud Governor Baker’s commitment to a thorough review of the Department’s policies and his personal pledge to make the critical investments we all know are needed to address the caseload crisis. No one has done more to advocate for reform and accountability than front-line child protection workers, and we will continue to work with the Administration and legislative leaders to bring long-overdue change to DCF.”

 

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SEIU Local 509 represents more than 18,000 human service workers and educators throughout the commonwealth, including front-line social workers, investigators and supervisors at the Department of Children & Families. SEIU 509 members provide a variety of social services to elders, at-risk children and people with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities — as well as educational opportunities from early learning to higher education. Local 509 is part of the Service Employees International Union, the fastest-growing labor union in the United States. For more information, visit http://seiu509.org.

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Tragedy in Vermont

As many of you have heard, one of our colleagues from Vermont’s DCF was apparently shot and killed Friday, August 7 following the removal of the client’s child. According to Barre City Police Chief Tim Bombardier, social worker Lara Sobel, 48, died from two gunshot wounds as she left the DCF office at Barre City Place shortly before 5:00PM.  The Burlington Free Press reports Lara was a 14-year veteran of DCF in Vermont and is survived by her husband and two daughters. Our thoughts and prayers go out to our fallen sister and her family.

 

An apparent murder like this, allegedly at the hand of a DCF client — and so close to home — reminds us all of the inherent dangers in our work.  The decision to remove a child from their parents’ custody is one we do not take lightly, and one that weighs heavy on our hearts and minds even if we know it is for the best. Any of us who have taken a crying child out of the hands of their mother or father, begging not to be taken their family — even a family that abuses and neglects them — knows this takes a piece of you as well. Social workers anguish over these life-and-death decisions, and only those of us who have ever done this work know what it is really like.

 

That part of the job is hard enough, but we also have to worry about risks like this. We work with families struggling with mental illness, drug abuse, and a myriad of other serious challenges. Yet, parents still love their children. If we believed they didn’t, we wouldn’t do this work. And, unfortunately, some parents’ love for their children comes across as violence towards us — the very people who have made the protection of at-risk children our life’s work.

 

When tragedies like this happen, it shakes all of us to our core. We ask ourselves: “Is this work worth it?  What would my family do if the worst happened?” Lara likely had these same thoughts, yet she continued her work. Like Lara did, we all carry on because we care about protecting kids; because we believe people can get better; because we believe parents want the best for their kids, even if they can’t give the best right now.  

 

In Massachusetts, they say we’ve been “lucky” that only one of our own has been murdered by a client.  Linda Silva was gunned down in a dark parking lot on the Cape — killed by a client against whom she had supported a 51a. That was 1996.  It was 2003 before her killer, Paul DuBois was found, charged, and later convicted of her murder.  If you don’t know Linda’s story, please take a moment to read more about it in the Cape Cod Times.

 

The tragedy in Vermont reminds us of Linda and the countless other dedicated social workers and investigators across the country who have given the ultimate sacrifice while protecting children. The American Public Human Services Association has created a website honor those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. We encourage everyone to visit the site, remember and reflect on the lives our fallen colleagues.

 

We have asked Commissioner Spears to ensure the Department offers appropriate support to front-line staff in the coming weeks, as we all come to grips with this horrific tragedy. We expect EAP services to be available in all offices starting Monday.  

 

For the hundreds of new workers who have begun your work at DCF in the last year and a half:  Know that this job is risky, and can be dangerous at times. No matter what managers or co-workers may label as “just part of the job,” do not think you must risk your own lives in service to the Department. We are not superheroes, after all, and any threat should be treated a real threat.

 

Like our newer colleagues, veteran staff at DCF know that this work is also incredibly rewarding. Seeing children and families thrive because of the guidance, support and protection we offer is why we wake up each day ready to dig in and make a difference. But we cannot hope to keep others safe if we aren’t safe in our own day-to-day work. Be careful and vigilant about your safety — and don’t be afraid to speak up if you have concerns.  

 

As we begin a new week at the Department of Children & Families, please take a moment to think about Lara, Linda and the countless others like them who died while doing the work we all love: helping to protect kids. And do not hesitate to reach out to DCF Safety Committee Chair Adriana Zwick or DCF Chapter President Peter MacKinnon in the coming weeks with your thoughts, concerns or questions.
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Important DCF Licensing Update

As you know, last year the legislature passed into law changes to job requirements at the Department of Children & Families.  Specifically, new hires at DCF have nine months to obtain their Social Work License. Those who were employed by DCF as of January 1, 2014 were required to obtain their license by July 1, 2015.

We are now past July 1 — meaning anyone hired before November, of last year must now be licensed under state law, and the Department will now take action to ensure compliance. Any unlicensed social worker hired before that time will receive a letter from Commissioner Spears:

1. Those who are currently unlicensed but have made efforts to become licensed (based on information DCF has from the License Board), will have until September 30, 2015 to become licensed or “steps may be taken to separate you from employment.”
Under certain circumstances, those in this category will have the opportunity to apply for a Hardship Waiver Extension. Recognizing that DCF works with a diverse population and therefore needs to have a diverse licensed workforce, the legislature granted the Commissioner the ability to issue a one-time, waiver of the licensing requirement for six months.Namely, the Commissioner can grant a waiver “to ensure access to underserved populations”.  Underserved populations can be defined by language, culture or other characteristics of the families served by your Area Office.
Again, this is a one-time extension of six months, and is not guaranteed. Only those who have made efforts to take the test are eligible, and the Commissioner has the right to grant or not grant an extension. Only those who have made efforts to take the exam are eligible for a Hardship Waiver Extension.
 
 
2. Those who are currently unlicensed and haven’t made an effort to become licensed (based on information DCF has from the License Board), will receive a letter stating that they have until September 30, 2015 to become licensed or “steps may be taken to separate you from employment.”
This is a real deadline and should be taken seriously. Because licensure is required by state law, neither our union nor the Department have any flexibility on this issue.
 
 
If you receive one of these letters and the information is incorrect (you actually have your license, you have made efforts to become licensed, etc.), you will need to send an email to the address contained in the letter immediately.  Please be sure to closely follow the directions in the letter.
For those hired after November 1, 2014, you also are required to be licensed and must obtain licensure within nine months of hire. If you have made efforts to take and/or pass the test, you may be eligible for a Hardship Waiver Extension.
 
Please take these deadlines seriously and make every effort to take and pass the license exam. While licensure is only a small component of being a professional social worker — and certainly does not address the caseload crisis at DCF — it is nonetheless important. Moreover, it is the law.
Please contact me or your Regional Vice President with questions.

 

In Unity,

Peter MacKinnon
DCF Chapter President

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Urge Your Legislators to Prioritize Child Protection

Contact your State Representative and Senator regarding key votes to reduce caseloads and strengthen child protection in Massachusetts

Despite oversight hearings, independent investigations and widespread public outcry, the caseload crisis at the Department of Children & Families is worse today than it was 18 months ago. The crisis has left many front-line child protection workers carrying unsafe, unmanageable caseloads of 25 of more families — leading advocates to predict it is only a matter of time before a tragedy occurs.

Urge your Representative and Senator to prioritize child protection in the state budget. Tell them it’s time to address the DCF caseload crisis once and for all!

Contact Form for DCF Social Workers | Contact Form for Other Workers & Allies

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Child Protection Workers Applaud Appointment of Linda Spears to DCF Post

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 5, 2015
Contact: Jason A Stephany, (617) 286-4430, jstephany@seiu509.org

Front-line Child Protection Workers Applaud Appointment of Linda Spears to Mass. DCF Post

WATERTOWN – The Massachusetts Human Service Workers Union, SEIU Local 509, released the following statement regarding the appointment of Linda Spears as Commissioner of the Department of Children & Families. The statement is attributable to Peter MacKinnon, the union’s DCF Chapter President and a veteran social work supervisor in the agency’s Lowell office. MacKinnon has worked in child protection for nearly two decades.

“Front-line child protection workers applaud Governor-elect Baker’s selection of Linda Spears to lead the Department of Children & Families.

“Linda brings a wealth of experience to DCF – both from her time at the Department of Social Services and as an agency advisor at the Child Welfare League of America. Her work at the League helped lay out a clear blueprint for reform and investment at DCF, and formed the backbone our landmark contractual agreement to bring caseloads down to safer, more manageable levels.

“Social workers and investigators look forward to continuing our work with Linda to institute the reforms and investments needed to keep at-risk children safe throughout Massachusetts.”

 

SEIU Local 509 represents more than 18,000 human service workers and educators throughout the commonwealth – including front-line social workers and investigators at the Department of Children & Families. SEIU 509 members provide a variety of educational and social services to at-risk children, elders and people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. Local 509 is part of the Service Employees International Union, the fastest-growing labor union in the United States.

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