- Associated Press - Friday, May 20, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Officials say a staff shortage in the state’s Child Welfare Services agency has resulted in social workers juggling twice as many as cases of child abuse and neglect as they should.

Administrator Kayle Perez says the agency’s 170 social workers need more support to properly manage child abuse cases. There are currently 31 job openings for social workers and 16 for support staff, Honolulu station KHON-TV reported (https://bit.ly/1XE8o6P). Most of the vacancies are in Oahu, Maui, and West Hawaii on the Big Island.

A Department of Human Services report says a hiring freeze from October 2013 to January 2014 affected the agency by negatively impacting staff recruitment efforts and lowering morale. The department also found that “some social workers have had difficulty managing their cases, unable to transfer, close, and log their contacts on a timely and consistent basis.”

Some social workers deal with as many as 20 to 30 families at a time, which Perez says is double the ideal amount. But she maintained that the shortage has not impacted the agency’s response time to new reports of child abuse.

“We’ve been pretty good about responding to reports of safety or harm to the children,” Perez said.

CWS has started public-private partnerships with organizations, such as Catholic Charities to help with counseling and other services for families.

Perez remains hopeful that Child Welfare Services will attract new employees and reduce caseloads for social workers to manageable levels.

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Information from: KHON-TV, https://khon.com


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