- Associated Press - Thursday, November 17, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A current and a former state social worker pleaded with lawmakers to help alleviate staff shortages and rising caseloads.

The Courier-Journal (https://cjky.it/2fYvzI1 ) reports Louisville social service worker Katy Coleman told the House-Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday that workers are quitting at “astronomical proportions,” leaving children even more helpless.

The Department for Community Based Services has been hollowed out by repeated budget cuts over the years. In that time, social workers say their jobs have become even more necessary because of the heroin abuse epidemic.

Coleman says there are nearly 8,100 children in foster care, a 200-child increase over a few months ago.

“It just keeps getting worse every day,” Coleman said. “Heroin reigns supreme.”



Cabinet Deputy Secretary Tim Feeley says officials are working hard to recruit, hire and retain more workers and improve conditions and pay for staff.

He said that includes contacting 261 social services workers who quit in the past year to describe changes taking place and asking them to consider returning.

“What we are doing is taking steps to improve the situation,” Feeley said.

Republican Sen. Danny Carroll of Paducah said that he believes lawmakers and the Bevin administration are willing to work together to improve conditions for social workers.

“I assure you, there is absolutely no intent to sweep anything under the rug,” he said. “I believe there are going to be some significant changes coming.”

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com

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