The Department of Children and Families, after months of controversy and the deaths of several children on its watch, has hired more than 230 new employees, but the agency has yet to cut into the high caseloads frustrating many child-care workers.
Erin Deveney, whom Governor Deval Patrick selected to lead the struggling agency in April, described the new hiring to state lawmakers Tuesday, but noted that DCF also lost employees because of turnover. Factoring in retirements and resignations, she said, the department had 143 more social workers at the end of June than it did at the beginning of the year.
Despite the gains in hiring, however, she told members of two House committees that she is unsure when the agency will reach one of its chief goals: a steady rate of 15 cases per worker. In May, she said, the state average was about 20 cases per worker, similar to what it was before the first of the year.
“I believe in being transparent, but not creating false expectations,” Deveney said when asked by lawmakers about a time frame for lowering the case-to-worker ratio.
Peter MacKinnon, president of the union chapter that represents child welfare workers in the state, said the problem is the surge of new employees has not matched the rise in the number of cases they face.
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