Department of Children & Families

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

SEIU Local 509 Lauds Inclusion of Protection for DCF Social Workers in Final Budget

As the conference committee budget heads to Governor Baker’s desk, SEIU Local 509 released the following statement lauding the inclusion of a critical safety measure for social workers at the Department of Children and Families. Effective upon the Governor’s signature, DCF social workers will be able to use state-issued identification for all DCF business, protecting workers’ home addresses from becoming public record.

The following statement is attributable to Adriana Zwick, a social worker and SEIU Local 509 DCF Chapter President:

“Social workers at DCF dedicate their careers to keeping at-risk kids safe from abuse and neglect, and unfortunately, it can be a dangerous profession. Too often in the course of our work, social workers are forced to provide personal information, like our home address, when we visit our clients in hospitals, correctional facilities, or schools. Being forced to provide our personal information poses a safety risk to social workers and their families.

“This measure keeps social workers’ personal information personal and helps protect their safety by allowing the use of state issued identification when carrying out DCF work. We are grateful to Minority Leader Tarr, Senator DiDomenico, Representative O’Day, and the Baker administration for championing home address protection for DCF social workers.”

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Congrats to all 2017 scholarship winners!

Each year, our SEIU Local 509 Scholarship Program funds more than a dozen educational scholarship awards for fellow members and their dependents.
Each of these scholarships range from $1,000 to $1,500 — many awards are based on member’s demonstrated commitment to the union’s growth over the last calendar year. From this year’s pool of qualified applicants, winners were drawn at random.
Congrats to all the winners, and stay tuned for information about next year’s application process!

Daniel Connerty, DOC
Danielle Henry, DTA
Diana Pereira-Velez, DTA
Ethel Everett, DCF
Euphemia Molina, DCF
Italienne Guillaume, Bridgewell
Johnson Odewale, DMH
Joyce Girardi, DMH
Kevin Higgins, Old Colony Elder Services
Kimberly Daughtry, MassHealth
Kristen Tully, DCF
Lisa Rooney, DDS
Lori Cassier, DCF
Michael Grow, DMH
Paul Kelly, DTA
Raymond Obeng, DDS
Stephanie Klink, MRC/DDS Worcester
Stephen Beloa, Bridgewell
Tiana Davis, Masshealth
Umberto Uku, Bridgewell

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SEIU Local 509 Lauds Senate Passage of Amendment to Protect DCF Social Workers

Last night, the Massachusetts Senate passed budget amendment #300, which would protect frontline social workers at the Department of Children and Families (DCF) from having their personal information, including their home address, publicly exposed. The following statement is attributable to Adriana Zwick, a social worker and SEIU Local 509 DCF Chapter President:

“Social workers at DCF dedicate their careers to keeping at-risk kids safe from abuse and neglect, and unfortunately, it can be a dangerous profession. Too often in the course of our work, social workers are forced to provide personal information, like our home address, when we visit our clients in hospitals, correctional facilities, or schools. Being forced to provide our personal information poses a safety risk to social workers and their families.

“If passed into law, this measure would keep social workers’ personal information personal and help protect their safety by allowing the use of state issued identification when carrying out DCF work. We are grateful to Senator Tarr for sponsoring this amendment and Chairwoman Spilka for her work on it. We urge the conference committee to include it in its final budget.”

Hundreds of Local 509 members at DCF wrote and called their Senators yesterday to urge the passage of this important amendment.

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Exciting Opportunity for Childcare Providers // Oportunidad Exitosa para Proveedores de Cuidado Infantil

New partnership with DCF offers short-term childcare to kids in need

We are happy to announce the creation of a new pilot program that would allow Family Childcare Providers to provider short-term emergency childcare to DCF children awaiting placement. For several months, our union leadership team has been working with representatives from the Department of Children & Families and Department of Early Education & Care to develop the program — and we are excited to launch this important pilot initiative.

The Commonwealth has agreed to pay providers $35.00 per day to provide emergency childcare. Providers do not need to obtain referrals from Child Care Systems or CRR&Rs for this program — children will be referred directly from DCF, and payments will be made directly to you from the state.

Click here a detailed memo on this program from DCF.

The pilot program will take place the following areas — and providers who are interested in participating in the program or in learning more should contact DCF staff listed below:

Springfield Area
including Belchertown, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, East Springfield, Granby, South Hadley, Hampden, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Monson, Palmer, Springfield, Ware and Wilbraham 

Worcester Area
including Auburn, Barre, Berlin, Bolton, Boylston, Brookfield, Clinton, East Brookfield, Grafton, Hardwick, Harvard, Holden, Hubbardston, Lancaster, Leicester, Millbury, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Oakham, Paxton, Princeton, Rutland, Shrewsbury, Spencer, Sterling, Warren, West Boylston, West Brookfield and Worcester

Lowell Area
including Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Lowell, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough and Westford 

Dorchester/Boston Area
including Allston, Brighton, Brookline, Chinatown, Dorchester, Dorchester Center, Downtown Crossing, Faneuil Hall, Financial District, Four Corners, Grove Hall, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, North End, Roslindale, Roxbury, South Boston and Upham’s Corner

New Bedford Area
including Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven and New Bedford 

Providers who are interested in participating in the program or in learning more should contact Tara Diorio-Thomas at (617) 748-2293 or email Tara.Diorio-Thomas@MassMail.State.MA.US

If successful, there is an expectation that the pilot program will be expanded throughout the Commonwealth. So please be sure to reach out to Tara to indicate your interest — she can connect you with the appropriate local contact.

As always, If you have questions about union programs, or would like to learn more about the union and how to become involved please contact your union representative:

William Cano: wcano@seiu509.org  or 617-584-1222
Western MA, Central MA and Merrimack Valley (Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill) 

Ninfa Breton: nbreton@seiu509.org  or 617-312-8195
Greater Boston (East Boston, Malden, Everett,  Chelsea), Southern MA and North Shore (Lynn, Revere, Gloucester, Salem)



Nueva colaboración con DCF ofrecen cuidado infantil a corto plazo para niños que lo necesitan

Estamos feliz de anunciarles la creación de nuestro nuevo programa que le dará el derecho a los proveedores de cuidado infantil que ofrezcan cuidado infantil a corto plazo para los niños en DCF quienes están esperando un puesto. Por varios meces nuestro liderazgo en la unión a estado trabajando con representantes del Departamento de Niños y Familias y el Departamento de la Educación temprana para poder desarrollar el programa- y estamos felices en comenzar esta iniciativa. 

El estado se apuesto de acuerdo que le va pagar a los proveedores $35.00 dólares al día para que le proveen cuidado infantil de emergencia. Los proveedores no necesitan obtener referencias del sistema de cuidado infantil. Los niños serán referidos directamente de DCF y los pagos van hacer directamente del estado. 

Haga clic aquí para obtener la nota detallada de DCF sobre este programa.

El programa va a estar en estos sitios — y los proveedores quienes están interesados en participar en el programa o en aprender mas deben de contactar los trabajadores de DCF listados aquí abajo:

Área de Springfield
incluso Belchertown, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, East Springfield, Granby, South Hadley, Hampden, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Monson, Palmer, Springfield, Ware y Wilbraham 

Área de Worcester
incluso Auburn, Barre, Berlin, Bolton, Boylston, Brookfield, Clinton, East Brookfield, Grafton, Hardwick, Harvard, Holden, Hubbardston, Lancaster, Leicester, Millbury, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Oakham, Paxton, Princeton, Rutland, Shrewsbury, Spencer, Sterling, Warren, West Boylston, West Brookfield y Worcester

Área de Lowell
incluso Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Lowell, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough y Westford 

Área de Dorchester/Boston
incluso Allston, Brighton, Brookline, Chinatown, Dorchester, Dorchester Center, Downtown Crossing, Faneuil Hall, Financial District, Four Corners, Grove Hall, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, North End, Roslindale, Roxbury, South Boston y Upham’s Corner

Área de  New Bedford
incluso Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven y New Bedford 

Los proveedores que estén interesados en participar en el programa o en aprender más deben comunicarse con Tara Diorio-Thomas: (617)748-2293Tara.Diorio-Thomas@MassMail.State.MA.US

Si tiene éxito, esperamos que este programa se expanda en todo el estado. Así que por favor asegúrese de contactarse con Tara para indicar su interés — ella los puede conectar con el contacto local apropiado.

Como siempre, si tiene preguntas acerca de los programas sindicales o desea obtener más información sobre el sindicato y cómo participar, comuníquese con su representante sindical:

William Cano: wcano@seiu509.org  o 617-584-1222
Western MA, Central MA y Merrimack Valley (Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill) 

Ninfa Breton: nbreton@seiu509.org o 617-312-8195
Greater Boston (East Boston, Malden, Everett, Chelsea), Southern MA y North Shore (Lynn, Revere, Gloucester, Salem)

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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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