Updated 06/24/2008 04:42 PM
DSS holds rally for kids
PITTSFIELD, MA -- "We have seen an increase in our intake numbers from about 200 a month, to almost 300 reports of child abuse and neglect a month," said Department of Social Services supervisor Jonathan Lothrop.
That's why he and about forty of his coworkers at the Department of Social Services in Pittsfield are rallying for support. DSS says a recent spike in cases of child abuse and neglect in Berkshire County means an increase in workload. The result is that too much time is being spent on paperwork and too little spent on keeping kids safe.
"We're currently under a situation where we have 23 case workers that have over 18 cases, which is our contractual number. Many of them have as many as 21 or 22 cases. When it comes to that point, it becomes potentially dangerous because we're not always able to attend to all the issues of concern," said Lothrop.
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Lori Kays places kids in foster care for DSS. She says the organization needs more state funding so they can hire more workers. According to Kays, employees are overworked by a paper trail of caseloads and at-risk kids are the one's paying the price.
"It has gotten worse. Through my tenure at the department, we roughly had 115 kids in foster care for a good period of time. Like I said, we are now up to over 300 kids in foster care," said Kays.
Ironically, DSS says the number of caseloads in inner cities is decreasing. But in rural areas like Berkshire County, they're on the rise. That's why officials say they're scrambling to keep up with customer demand.
"Basically, more cases means less time with each family to understand what their needs and issues are," said Lothrop.
Those are issues that DSS says need to be fixed. And until they are, these social services workers are pledging to march until their voices are heard.