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Friday, February 17, 2017

Dietz Gets Answers About NorCo CYF Caseworkers

In the wake of the alleged murder of a 15 year-old girl by NorCo's former adoption supervisor, Human Services Chair Seth Vaughn originally vowed he would ask Human Services and Children and Youth to come to a meeting and explain in detail how child protective services works. But he eventually decided to play the same stonewall game that Executive John Brown was playing, and looked like a deer caught in the headlights when he was eventually confronted by NBC10's Deanna Durante last month.

Later, I submitted a series of questions that could be asked, but Vaughn refused to submit them. He toldKenKraft that it was out of animus for me.

Matt Dietz, another member of the Committee, is a person I opposed when he ran for election. But he posed those questions, especially since some of his constituents were asking them, too. He got answers from Allison Frantz, the Director of Human Services. Though she failed to appear at the meeting, he made her remarks part of the record. Here is their exchange.

Northampton County Department of Human Services
Children, Youth and Families - Questions/Answers
February 13, 2017

1.                   1.           How many CYF caseworkers are employed by Northampton County? 

There are 75 Caseworker (CW) positions approved and budgeted by the state and County Council.

Total staff complement is 128.  This includes case-aides, secretaries, and attorneys.

2.             How many positions are vacant and how long have they been vacant?

61 caseworker positions are filled, 16 are vacant.  Three (3) of the 16 are newly created positions attached to a new unit called Family Group Decision Making [FGDM], which was approved by Council in December 2016.

The oldest CW vacancy is from July 2016.  The hiring process was delayed due to the 90 day right of return per PA Civil Service regulation.

3.             What is the turnover rate and do we know what the industry average is?
                CYF has a continuous vacancy rate and is always engaged in the hiring process.

In 2015, 22 departed = 29% turnover rate.
In 2016, 16 departed = 21% turnover rate.

On the National level, the caseworker turnover rate is between 30% & 40%.The state rate is not available.

There are a variety of factors that affect turnover.  The typical reasons for turnover in a given entry level position [poor working conditions, salary, potential advancement into management] don’t apply here.

As an entry level position, some employees use the position as an entry point to county employment and transfer to other county agencies.  Some employees are at a mobile stage in their life and not rooted to a geographical area and move based on a variety of factors.  Some employees view the casework position as an entry point in the field of child welfare services.  They may leave county employment to focus on foster care work with a nonprofit organization.  They may find their calling in behavioral therapy or psychological services.  It’s a position that requires a great deal of training and certification after hire, and not all people prefer the intensity of the work or training involved.  

4.             What is their caseload like?

Caseload size is between 12 and 25.       

The CYF caseload does not exceed the state maximum caseload limit of 30 cases.

Child Welfare League of America recommends 12-15 cases

5.             How many hours do they work daily/weekly? 

Caseworkers put in an eight hour day with a forty hour work week.

Overtime hours average 2 hours per week.

6.             Does this caseload exceed the state recommendation? 

Caseload size is between 12 and 25.       

The CYF caseload does not exceed the state maximum caseload limit of 30 cases.

Child Welfare League of America recommends 12-15 cases.

7.             Do we have safeguards to follow up with families and/or youth when a CYF worker has contact with a child? 

The job description for a caseworker illustrates that a substantial part of their duties requires field work with families and contact with children.

Cases are tightly monitored for caseworker professionalism, thoroughness, and respectfulness as well as, regulatory requirements. 

During the probationary period workers go in the field with a seasoned worker.  During the course of a case, a caseworker can be accompanied by a seasoned worker or supervisor.

Every two years, existing employees must successfully obtain the PA State Police, ChildLine and FBI clearances.  At the DHS Director’s discretion, an employee may need to submit to clearance checks during the two year period.

Outline, generally and specifically, of case monitoring which provides for all manner of review of caseworker interaction.

Cases are reviewed by a supervisor.  The supervisor reviews cases with the CYF Admin team.  Policy dictates cases are to be staffed /reviewed with CYF administration when direction is needed and if custody of a child is recommended.  Placement reviews occur on an ongoing basis; decisions are made as a team and are not solely resting on any one caseworker's shoulders. 

The Courts also monitor all dependent and Court ordered placement of children.

CYF has an annual licensing review/certification by the PA office of Children, Youth and Families.

Families with a concern call the supervisor and/or program director.  Families can also call the State Office of CYF.

A supervisor must review the cases, initially, every 10 days with the caseworker.  When the case is accepted for services, the identified risk level mandates the frequency of contact ranging from weekly face to face contact to monthly face to face contact.  Risk level determination is a state requirement and the minimum frequency is monthly face to face contact.

Northampton CYF also engages in quarterly reviews whereby every supervisor must submit current details of each case.  The caseworkers provide to the supervisors such details as:  the current status of the situation, paperwork completion status, court proceedings status and verification that all regulatory requirements and timelines are met.

8.             How are complaints against a CYF caseworker handled? 

Complaints are investigated by the administrator, assistant administrator, program director, supervisor or the Regional offices.

If a complaint is verified, discipline of different levels or dismissal may occur.

9.             How many complaints have been made against CYF caseworkers, year by year?

The last complaint against a CYF worker was in 2012.  The individual’s county employment was severed.

In 2016, Northeast Regional OCYF reported 44 duplicated complaints/calls attributed to the Northampton County Children Youth and Families Division.

Majority of complaints are in two categories:  unsatisfied with the outcome, unsatisfied with the issued court order.  There have been no specific caseworker complaints.

The Director of the Northeast Regional Office indicates the number of calls is not high for a 3rd class county.

In addition, the CYF Administrator receives approximately 35 general complaints a year.  These calls are in the same categories as received by the regional office. There have been no specific caseworker complaints.

10.          What are the ongoing requirements/certifications for a CYF worker?

A candidate must first submit application and complete testing with the PA State Civil Service Commission (SCSC) to be considered for employment.

Prior to employment, references are contacted.  Potential hires must provide PA State Police, ChildLine and FBI clearances prior to date of employment.

When hired, the worker must complete a 6-month probationary period and attain Child Welfare Direct Service Worker Certification inclusive of Human Resources, DHS and CYF orientations and completion of “Charting the Course.”  “Charting the Course” is a 120-hour (10-module) course provided by the PA Child Welfare Resource Center, under the auspices of the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work.

All caseworkers, once certified, are required to have a minimum of 20 hours annual training in Social work related fields.  There are additional annual training requirements for staff that have attained licensure. 

Every two years, existing employees must successfully obtain the PA State Police, ChildLine and FBI clearances.  At the DHS Director’s discretion, an employee may need to submit to clearance checks during the two year period. 


Anonymous said...

So these were the state secrets that council and Brown could not answer? How does the rest of council feel about Dietz upstaging them?

Anonymous said...

Dietz represents the area of the county comprised mainly of the northern tier. Why then has he never and I repeat never..attended a Slate Belt Regional COG meeting? He is our rep yet he is a no show since being elected. At least Parsons attended those meetings when he was on county council. dietz evidently does not care about his constituents or their elected leadership. Sad.

Anonymous said...

At least current county DCED people come to meetings so I guess that is his excuse.

sezary said...

The administration and county council, instead of hiding behind the veil of legal advice, could of and should of, provided leadership on this issue. The answers provided, at the request of Mr. Dietz, would not have, as they do not now, put the county at any legal risk whatsoever. Mr. Vaughn, once you are elected, you represent all residents of the county, even the ones with which you may disagree or may not like. The governance of this fine county has no room for political infighting. Philosophical differences can and should be debated and discussed. But not asking questions, or even taking them seriously for a moment, because one does not like an individual is childish and irresponsible for a council member. Of course, Mr. Vaughn you wouldn't have the fortitude to go on record with your lack of willingness to address these apropos questions simply because of personal animus. That is not leadership. That is not the character of the kind of representative we the people need on county council. A true leader would have simply walked across the street to the controller's office and handled the situation like a leader and a man. Instead, Mr. Brown and the administration decided to play politics. Boo Hiss. Northampton County and its' citizens deserves leadership and transparency. We the People do not want or need any more politics once you are elected and are expected to serve and run OUR county.

sezary said...

Anonymous February 17, 2017 at 10:29 AM

If Mr. Dietz is your representative on county council, why don't you contact him and ask him instead of just speaking of him negatively. He is actually a very nice man, with a very nice family. Have you ever spoken with him? Perhaps you should pose your question and express your concerns to him directly. What a concept! He indeed cares deeply about his constituents and Northampton County. Contact him before bashing him and making vicious public statements about him.

Anonymous said...

"Contact him before bashing him and making vicious public statements about him."

If this guy doesn't go to meetings , he doesn't go. Nothing vicious about that. That is the problem with alt-right Republicans, they love family pictures but don't look at anything else, just push that R button.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jeff, I was very gratified that Mr. Dietz was willing to get answers to these questions. It is unfortunate that Allison Frantz was not there in person, but Dietz has no control over that absence. I am unable to speak about his COG attendance bc I get no notices and don't know if he does. But obviously, his attendance there would help him be a better representative.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dietz' attendance record..such as it is..is public information and avail. from the SB COG offices from their sec. and it is also the SB Chamber offices. Laura McClain is that person. Scott never needed an invitation to attend so why does Dietz need one. Meetings occur monthly. It is very apparent he does not mingle with those beneath him.

Anonymous said...

He is listed on the attendance sheet as are all other governmental officials of the region who are designated representatives to that body as well as the school district rep's.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I just went on their webpage and see Scott is the Exec Director.

Anonymous said...

He is..yes.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully county dced does attend on a fairly reg. basis as Tim Herlinger has been to several recent meetings of the SB COG.

sezary said...

Anonymous at February 17, 2017 at 2:02 PM

I was writing regarding the statement "dietz evidently does not care about his constituents or their elected leadership. Sad." Saying Mr. Dietz does not care is simply not true and is not based on the big picture, only a sliver. That is basing the opinion of Mr.Dietz solely on his attendance at COG meetings. There is much more to him, or anyone, than just one issue. I am not defending his lack of attendance at COG meetings. I am simply suggesting that discussing those concerns with Mr. Dietz would be more productive than assuming he doesn't care. He does. He is approachable. By the way, I am not a republican.

sezary said...

Attending COG meetings may indeed make Mr. Dietz a better representative on council. Those with those concerns should bring them to him directly.

Anonymous said...

He and you are now on notice since you seem to be his press agent or mouthpiece. Show up or continue to disregard regional issues and initiatives and disrespect all the other local elected leaders who take the time to attend.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If anyone is being disrespectful, it is you. You don't sign your name and now you are attacking a reader. You can attack Diet.He is an elected official. Buit I will delete you if you attack a reader without saying who you are. All I can see is that you are very full of yourself.

Bernie O'Hare said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
X said...

In one way or another most of theZe people in this human services field in the triboro are DeatheaterZ and have there sacred shrine which were to feed off the innocent indigent children they perpatrate to serve? This is one sic sic exceptable modern social issue that has infected the public sector here locally as well as protects the ActorZ of this triboro carnival circus sideshow!
When we have public servants covering for one anotherZ activitieZ this too could fall into the catagory of service to do disevice as well as eccessory to the actZ! One big carnival circus seperated by county lines and boundrieZ working together to cross the lineZ and create dysfunction and discourse, all because of the political pandering?
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