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Staff shortage at DCYF

Apr 11, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

Staffing levels at the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) continue to be an area of concern, as the agency struggles to cope with a backlog of 2,000 cases. 

Following the deaths of two toddlers under DCYF care, former Gov. Maggie Hassan called for an independent review of the agency. The report recommended a number of changes, including an increase in staffing from 85 social workers to 120 and the addition of 24 assistant supervisors. 

But can the positions be funded? A Senate bill, SB 223, would have appropriated the necessary funds and authorized the department to start hiring. The bill was tabled awaiting Gov. Chris Sununu's budget proposal. 

According to Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers, that budget did include $2.2 million for new hires. The line item was reduced by $400,000 in the House budget. 

However, objections from Democrats--who felt the budget was too lean--and from conservative Republicans--who felt it was too generous--saw the House fail to pass that budget by deadline for the first time in decades, which means Sununu's proposal will go to the Senate as-is, where they may or may not choose to alter the governor's recommendations.

Supporters of funding more DCYF hires point to statistics showing that New Hampshire's rate of case workers per capita is among the lowest in the nation, while the caseloads per worker are among the highest. They argue that additional staffing is necessary to ensure the safety of Granite State children. 

Opponents counter that the problems at DCYF go beyond a lack of staff, maintaining that the agency needs to resolve issues such as high turnover and absence rates before hiring new workers. They also cite state laws that favor parental rights, setting a high bar for case workers to take action to remove children from potentially dangerous situations. 

Should NH increase staffing at the Division for Children, Youth and Families?  Leave a comment below and have your say!

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Senator McGilvray passed away in March 2017. Senator, NH Senate (2016 - 2017); President, NEA-New Hampshire; Retired Public School Teacher

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