Letter: Who is to blame for inadequate staffing at DCYF?

For the Monitor
Published: 3/26/2017 12:01:14 AM
Who is to blame for inadequate staffing at DCYF?

The Monitor’s recent article “DCYF still faces sizable case backlog” (Sunday Monitor front page, March 12) noted that an outside review of DCYF deemed current staffing inadequate and recommended the addition of 35 child protection workers to investigate claims of abuse and neglect. But the article did not provide any figures for how many child protection workers the department currently has, so the reader had no sense of how those 35 workers might impact the size of the overall department.

Given the reports of extensive backlogs in investigations, I wondered if the 35 additional workers would have helped eliminate this problem.

In doing quick research on the state’s website, it appears that the administrative services personnel directory lists approximately 175 employees as child protective service workers.

DCYF’s web page notes that on average the department receives 15,000 reports of potential abuse annually and investigates 8,000 of those reports. Using these figures it would appear that each child protective service worker investigates approximately 45 cases a year.

By that same math then, the department could expect the ability to investigate 1,575 more cases if they had the 35 additional workers recommended by the outside review – virtually the same number of cases they allegedly closed improperly, which led to Gov. Sununu putting the director on administrative leave.

My question in all of this is who is truly responsible for the department lacking those 35 extra workers it clearly needs?

If DCYF has not been requesting additional personnel to handle these backlogged investigations, and has failed to recognize the severity of the problem, then clearly the director should take responsibility.

But if DCYF has been requesting additional resources all along, and has been denied those resources because of a lack of state funding or political will, then I would submit that New Hampshire state government at all levels is the real villain in this tragedy.

I hope the Monitor will continue to cover this story so we can all learn who is truly to blame for this terrible situation.



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