Fighting high child caseworker turnover rates
ALBANY, N.Y. -- The cases can be tough, the issues daunting, the workload challenging.
"There's certainly a high potential for burnout here," said Department of Children, Youth and Families Caseworker Supervisor Gail Geohagen.
Geohagen is part of a new campaign by the Office of Children and Family Services - to keep caseworkers from leaving.
"We need to address the high turnover rate and disrupt it," OCFS Commissioner Gladys Carrion said as they announced a set of new initiatives to retain caseworkers. This, as New York State sees a 17 percent turnover rate in 2007 - with some counties seeing rates as high as 25 percent. Saratoga County, for example, saw a 41 percent turnover rate.
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"We're hoping we not only retain caseworkers in this field, but that we will be able to encourage undergraduate and graduate students to come join us in this work," said Commissioner Carrion.
To that end, the Office is turning to the web with information and videos about becoming a caseworker. They say they're also providing more tools to caseworkers like laptops to increase efficiency.
Albany County Executive Mike Breslin said, "Those people who are thinking in college and high school what they'll do with their lives, figure out about how they'll contribute, is this for me?"
Giving the caseworker, those tools means an additional $2 million for the state budget, but with those high turnover rates, Commissioner Carrion hopes the $2 million will pay for itself through increased retention.
"The cost in hiring and retraining people is enormous, also the toll it takes on children and families," said Carrion.
"It's definitely something that's not for everyone," Geohagen said. "But there are people out there that can do it obviously."
Time will tell if the additional funding will pay for itself, as Geohagen simply hopes it will help her to better help families.