|centralized human services building|
In 2014, Northampton County received 3,514 referrals of possible child abuse. They increased to 5,617 in 2015 and 6,061 in 2016. This year, we are on track to have over 7,500 referrals, more than twice the number in 2014.
Calling the increased referrals a "tsuanami," Dolan said his staff are overwhelmed. "There is no way with the staff we have that we can do this well." In addition to the increased referrals, he said his staff must also keep up with deadlines mandated by law.
In addition to increased referrals, Dolan said "it's gotten very violent out there. My staff get threatened a lot." Then they quit. He noted that there are 40 vacancies in Luzerne County, where 30-40 people are brought in at one time for interviews.
In addition to guarding against the classical symptoms of child abuse, Dolan said his agency is now also charged with guarding against children in foster care who may be overmedicated.
The saddest thing he sees is when a parent who has gone to the trouble to adopt returns the child. "Here's the suitcase. It didn't work out. Take him back."
This week, Northampton County's CYF is being reviewed by a team of 17 federal investigators. "Lucky us! We won the lottery!" They will be on site for four days, interviewing staff, parents, teachers, counselors, lawyers, judges and children.
Dolan also stated that human trafficking if children has become a problem. "These guys recruit for the dance cubs and for prostitution, and where they hang around are the residential facilities where adolescents are. This is how smart they are,and they figure out what schools [adolescents] are going to, and is there's a needy youth that they can talk into working for them, they do that." he claimed the FBI is "so overwhelmed that they're going to expand [a human trafficking] unit.
Seventy per cent of the caseload is drug or alcohol related.
This increased workload has taken its toll. Statewide, 37 administrators have left in the past 26 months.In his office, the turnover is 20%,and there are currently 10 caseworker vacancies. He currently has 65 caseworkers.
"We're going full tilt and we don't have any down time," he said. "'Something bad is gonna' happen,' a fellow CYF Director recently told him.
He said he and Allison Frantz will probably be asking for more case workers. "Don't go passing all these laws and then don't give us the money to do the job," he said.