Budget cuts blamed for DCF’s recent issues

BOSTON (WWLP) – Key funding has been cut from the Department of Children and Families over the past five years and now social workers say 100-million state dollars need to be restored to protect the young.

It’s been nothing but controversy for the Department of Children and Families. The agency has been under strict scrutiny after losing track of missing 5-year old Fitchburg boy, Jeremiah Oliver, and more recently with the Justina Pelletier case.

Social workers blame the deep budget cuts, which have resulted in heavy caseloads. The national average of caseloads is 14 to 15 families per worker. Here in Massachusetts, workers could be seeing more than double.

According to Peter MacKinnon of the Service Employees International Union, “We have caseloads, 25, 30, 35, some as high as 40 families per worker. You just cannot do the work safely with that type of caseload. It’s really putting kids at risk.”

The Children’s League of Massachusetts wants $100-million to be restored to DCF in Fiscal 2015. $17-million would go towards hiring more front-line social workers to reduce the heavy caseloads.

The league also wants to dedicate $250-thousand towards DCF training to equip social workers with state-of-the-arts skills and approaches to child protection.

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