Gov. Malloy’s Proposed Budget Includes Needed Resources to Reduce Caseloads for Social Workers and Help Meet Critical Responsibilities
Governor and DCF Commissioner Commemorate Social Worker Awareness Month
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel M. Malloy today announced that resources that are included in his biennial budget proposal will help the Department of Children and Families (DCF) reduce the caseloads handled by the agency’s social workers to 75 percent of the maximum caseload standard in order to assist them in meeting the critical responsibilities of their jobs.
“We require so much more of our social workers today then we did a decade ago,” Governor Malloy said. “We have instituted improvements that make their jobs significantly more difficult – greater family involvement, better case planning, and less reliance on institutional settings. Focusing on families as a resource has led to significant progress, but we can’t expect workers to do so much more and still have the same number of cases.”
A recent study by the court monitor in the “Juan F.” consent decree found that current caseloads are overwhelming. The study demonstrates DCF social workers cannot comply with all fundamental DCF policies and federal and state mandates within the 40-hour work week when their caseloads are at or exceed the current maximum caseload standard. The study also found that workers spend a great deal of time on tasks that do not involve direct contact with families, including travel time, data entry, preparation for court and written communication.
“The study shows what we at the department have known for some time – that increasing demands make the existing caseload standards untenable,” DCF Commissioner Joette Katz said. “Many workers put in 60 hours a week but still can’t meet all the obligations. We are talking about vulnerable children who depend on quality work, and so we have a responsibility to adequately staff and resource the department.”
The court monitor also found that the current information system is inadequate, as it does not allow workers to input information in real-time or when they are not in the office. This issue is currently being addressed with the replacement of the department’s data system, which was developed more than 20 years ago. The replacement data system will result in improved efficiency for staff, including the ability to input data from the field and in real-time.
An agreement reached last year between the department and the plaintiff’s attorneys in the “Juan F.” consent decree recognized the critical nature of the 75 percent caseload standard and provided, among other essentials, for additional staffing. Unfortunately, the plan was not approved by the General Assembly, leaving these critical staffing needs subject to a perpetually uncertain future.