Worsening Caseload Crisis Prompts Child Protection Workers to Picket at Cambridge/Somerville DCF

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By William Tauro

On Thursday, dozens of protesters demonstrated the crisis conditions going on with the Department of Child Families (DCF).

DCF workers and other members of the SEIU Local 509 at noon (workers used their lunch time to ensure none of the agency’s work was disturbed) outside the DCF Cambridge/Somerville area office that’s located at 810 Memorial Drive Cambridge took to the streets showcasing their causes and fears of the unacceptable potential dangerous conditions that the workers as well as the families face on a daily basis .

Front-line social workers and investigators at the Cambridge/Somerville Area Office put the local picket together to get the message out to fix this broken system.

A “crisis-level caseload” would be any situation where an individual social worker or investigator is handling 20 or more cases at a time. If someone has 20 cases on their docket, for example, that’s 20 families — meaning a child protection worker could be charged with overseeing 40, 50 or more children.

According to the Child Welfare League of America, which sets caseload standards nationally and conducted the independent review of DCF, a child protection worker can safely handle no more than 15 cases at once.

Statewide, there are hundreds of social workers and investigators carrying a crisis-level caseload. In fact, twice as many child protection workers are handling unsafe workloads today than the same time a year ago.

In the Cambridge-Somerville Area Office, specifically, 1 in 3 workers carries a crisis-level caseload. That’s five times the number from a year ago.

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