BUFFALO, NY - A proposal from Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and the Department of Social Services to increase the number of Child Protective Services employees was discussed at the Legislature's committee meeting on Tuesday morning.
According to Social Services Commissioner Carol Dankert-Maurer, the state recommends workers take on a maximum of 15 cases at a time.
"Unfortunately, we have some that have 20, 22, 27 cases. We're trying to get them all down to the state recommended standard of 15," Dankert-Maurer said.
Poloncarz and DSS has asked the county legislature to add another seven CPS workers, six of which would directly work in the field by investigating abuse and neglect claims. The plan would also add three managerial positions to DSS.
The proposal was on the table in early September, even before the death of five-year-old Eian Brooks, allegedly at the hands of his mother's boyfriend.
His family says they reported abuse to CPS several times before his death.
"We are certainly aware of the allegations from the family and community, and we're going to get to the bottom of that," Dankert-Maurer said. "We want to understand what happened, and what didn't happen."
Dankert-Maurer told lawmakers her department has 240 fewer workers than it did in 2008, at the same time that caseloads have been steadily increasing. She said DSS in particular has about 96 total workers right now, all of whom occupy a variety of positions.
She wants the full Legislature to vote on the plan on Thursday. If approved, Deputy Erie County Executive Rich Tobe says hiring for the new jobs would begin immediately.
These additional jobs would be added at a zero net cost to county taxpayers for 2013, as leftover funding from the current county budget would be reallocated from an unexecuted contract with ECMC to cover them.