New legislation pushes to reduce caseloads for social service workers, gives families more support

 

DELAWARE – “So the ability of case workers to have a fewer number of families to work with will help us to be able to better meet the needs of those families,” Parker said.

Currently in Delaware, treatment workers with the Division of Family Services have a caseload of 18 families. This potentially makes it challenging for them to properly care for each family.

Senate Bill 33 looks to reduce that number to 12. “So, if you consider that you have 18 families that you’re serving and out of those 18 families each one could have 2 to 4 children involved,” Delaware Division of Family Services Director Trenee Parker said.

“These are families who have struggles or are even in a crisis. Families who are made up of individuals who each need their own supports,” Delaware Senator Kyle Evan Gay said.

Treatment workers make home visits, serve children in foster care, assess behavioral and mental health needs, and more.

Parker says the division served 1700 families just last year and their need for services continues to grow. “Now for treatment workers statewide, the average caseload is 15.4. When you look at the legislation, we’re already exceeding the number being proposed,” Parker said.

“Many of these cases can be very complicated. They can take a lot of time to get to know how best to help the family,” Senator Gay said.

To meet that demand they’ll need the labor, which the division has also suffered with recruitment and retention.

That’s why lawmakers hope legislation can be a possible solution. “I think for anyone that works in the child welfare space, the biggest concerns any person has on a given day is making sure all of the children they’re responsible for are safe,” Parker said.

“We want to have the best practices here in Delaware and this bill represents the best practice,” Senator Gay said.

DSF says they actually saw a dip in demand for services at the thick of the pandemic. As demand grows, we’re told they have a number of initiatives in the works to attract talent.

In addition to having some staffing challenges, the Division of Family Services has also seen a decrease in the number of families serving as foster families.

Senate Bill 33 nows sits in the Judiciary committee where it awaits consideration.

Categories: Delaware, Health, Local News