The Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved the hiring of 25 new people at Child Welfare Services. Child Welfare Services says they need more people because of rising caseloads and new government regulations.
For the last two years, cubicles at the Child Welfare Services building in Visalia, have sat empty due to layoffs. Now it looks like some of them will be filled again.
Juliet Webb said, "We're very happy that we're able to add back 25 positions to child welfare services most of those positions being social work positions."
Since 2008, Child Welfare Services Division Director Juliet Webb says CWS has had to layoff 55 workers. The layoffs put a strain on the department, especially as caseloads increased.
In fact, Webb says each caseworker has seen a 20% increase in child abuse cases just in the last year.
In April 2010, each caseworker handled an average of 31 cases at a time. As of last month, that number has risen to 37 cases. And county officials expect that number to rise. Last year CWS handled roughly 66-hundred child abuse cases involving more than 10,000 children.
Webb said, "We're on track this year to go to 7500 so almost an increase of 1000 referrals involving nearly twice as many children."
Webb tells us the new staff is also needed because of new state and federal requirements to provide additional data to the government on how efficient their agency is. And starting next year, CWS will be responsible for foster children up to age 21. Right now the cutoff is when they turn 18.
Tulare County Supervisors approved the additional positions without hesitation. The $1.2 million price tag is coming from new state and federal funding.
Tulare County Supervisor, Steve Worthley said, "When we look at these additional people being added and the cost that goes with that, the funding that pays for that does not come from our direct taxes and so forth in our general funded positions."
Child Welfare Services says they could even hire back some of their previously laid off employees. They'll begin the hiring process this July.