Leaders at the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services say they are taking steps to ease a severe problem with manpower and child protection. There have been a number of recent deaths blamed in part on a lack of oversight and some say a complete overhaul is in order.
The head of DCFS says that a new direction is underway to address a 500-person manpower shortfall.
“When your caseload is two times bigger than it should be, you feel out of control,” said DCFS head Marketa Walters.
The department is implementing a seven-point plan which includes boosting pay in target areas to try and recruit and retain caseworkers. They are also assembling special teams of retired law enforcement and medical experts to make rapid assessments when child welfare is in question.
Some lawmakers say it’s time to bring in outside help to shore up a child welfare system that is woefully short of manpower. “What would be the downfall of a private contract to provide the services we have to stop the bleeding?” asked Sen. Fred Mills (R-New Iberia).
Although some lawmakers are calling for a change in leadership, DCFS officials say they are working closely with civil service to boost pay and recruit new employees. Part of the plan calls for the state to work closely with seven state colleges offering social work programs. In some cases, tuition would be offered for students who commit to working for the DCFS after graduation.
DCFS Employment Opportunities