Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge creates plan to help struggling DCFS cope with massive caseload
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – Amid crucial missteps that may have led to the deaths of two children in recent months, the Department of Children and Family Services is still facing a boom in cases and a critical shortage of workers.
Over the past six months, the agency has investigated 1,326 reports of child abuse and neglect and WAFB I-TEAM has learned that as of Wednesday, November 9, 2022, there were nearly 85 cases in this region where no contact has been established. .
“If we just look at September for comparison, that’s a 63% increase in the number of cases,” Dr Rhenda Hodnett said.
In October alone, executives say another 259 cases have poured in and despite hiring 15 additional staff who are expected to be on board by the end of the month, they are struggling to keep pace with the staggering reality.
“Right now, we don’t have enough staff to adequately deal with the crisis we find ourselves in with the number of cases coming in and the number of staff we have to respond to them,” said former DCFS secretary Marketa Walters.
In addition to deploying a strike team to help manage their workload, the department is also seeking outside help from a local agency to provide some relief.
“Marketa Walters approached us themselves to set up these two different types of services to try to help and improve the DCFS system and overcome some of the challenges they are currently facing,” said Rene Taylor.
Taylor is the executive director of the Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge (FSGBR).
The organization plans to help DCFS with two different programs. The first will provide special counseling and services to DCFS workers and their families. The second is a pilot program that will help the department control its heavy workload.
“We will have a team to go into homes and work with children and families. In addition to this, we will be setting up services such as counselling, mental health treatment, parenting classes and other services and resources that families need,” Taylor said.
Taylor says they were approached about three months ago by the now former secretary to propose the program.
The plan is to give DCFS enough manpower and relief to help prevent another tragedy.
“That could possibly prevent this from happening again because we’re currently doing work that DCFS is challenged to do effectively right now because it’s understaffed,” Taylor said.
Taylor thinks this will change and save lives.
“The overall goal is to make sure these families don’t come back into the DCFS system,” Taylor said.
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