Emergency in Child Welfare

A couple weeks back we highlighted an article which told the story of a California family that fought CPS for the return of their children and ended up being part of a lawsuit against the state. That article used that family’s story to shed light on greater systemic issues with the child welfare system. Some of those issues were recently recognized by grand jury findings regarding San Bernardino County’s Department of Children and Family Services. Perhaps chief among those issues is high turnover among caseworkers, which is a problem in Washington State as well. Such turnover leads to “caseloads far exceeding the national average,” “shoddy documentation practices,” and “a lack of training.” All of these issues combine to work against even the most hard-working and well-intentioned caseworkers. It creates a “snowball effect” because the more turnover there is, the more these other problems arise and the less likely workers are to stay once hired. Some dependency attorneys have heard of turnover in certain Washington State DSHS offices as being close to 90%. Cases benefit immensely from consistency of who is on board, and as evidenced by the recent findings in California, high turnover of social workers is not a problem local to Washington State.

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