New Welfare Workers Prepare to Hit the Streets

New Welfare Workers Prepare to Hit the Streets

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Jill Atwood ReportingA new team of child welfare workers is set to hit the streets. For several years, the state has had a hard time adding new caseworkers because of budget restrictions.

Statewide, more than 40 new workers will help ease the pressure from the growing number of caseloads, which up to this point, have meant each caseworker has had less time to spend with families in need.

Not everyone can be a child welfare worker. Veterans of the career say it takes thick skin, a big heart, and lots of practice. All of them are here for different personal reasons, but have the same professional goal, to save a family.

Leon Butler/New D.C.F.S. Caseworker: "Maybe their initial view is this person is going to take my children away, and that's not what we're doing and so getting that initial trust is maybe going to be one of the challenges."

The work can be frustrating and heart breaking, but knowing that ahead of time is what makes a good caseworker--that and weeks of training.

Clorissa Bascom/New Caseworker: "We're talking out scenarios to see how we would react and what kind of skills we can use to engage families. Things like active listening, making working agreements, and just making the family feel comfortable and understood."

Years ago a young caseworker might not have had that insight going into a call, but now they are closely monitored, and mentored as part of a crisis team. The state, is training 45 new caseworkers to bring caseloads down. A recent study shows nearly half the caseworkers don't have enough time in a month to do their jobs, properly.

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