Wednesday, June 21, 2017

NorCo CYF Director Dolan - Help!!!!

centralized human services building
Kevin Dolan, long-time Director of Northampton County's Children Youth and Family Division (CYF), updated Council about his department last week. His presentation could be summed up in one word - Help! Referrals have skyrocketed since 2014, when 23 of what he called "the Sandusky laws" went into effect. Those were adopted in reaction to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted in 2012 of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. They created whole new classes of mandated reporters, who must contact CYF when there are allegations of child abuse.

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.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

You get only so much money. They choose a fancy, new multi-million dollar building over services. Decisions have consequences.

Inconvenient Truth, part 2.

Anonymous said...

This is a major concern. Doubt any of the current elected officials understand all the ramifications of this situation. Sadly none of them have any real experience or knowledge of what Mr. Dolan is stalking about. It would help if we had elected officials who understood these issues.

Anonymous said...

Take money from the Human Resource budget. She seems to have a lot to spend.

Anonymous said...

If you can't deal with the heat, get out of the kitchen. Do you think the arrogant Brown administration, useless council or the broke Commonwealth will come to your aid in an election year, your nuts!

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the county arm its staffers if they are in harm's way? Why keep them defenseless?

Staffing issues aside, that briefing really shows just how bad things have become out there in the "real" world, absent the endless positivity stories we hear from the Chamber and the economic development people about how great it is to live in the Lehigh Valley.

Bernie O'Hare said...

11:6, Giving people guns is no solution to the basic decline in civility.

Anonymous said...

Should the human resources director be helping with this? What exactly are the taxpayers getting for 104,000 a year? It's a disgrace

Bernie O'Hare said...

Given the turnover rate and large number of vacancies, an Executive and HR Director truly concerned about enabling the county to provide this service would ask for at least 10 positions more than authorized. Brown's focus has been to allow positions to go unfilled and then brag about saving money.

Anonymous said...

how many CY case workers does norco have? may have missed this in the article.

Anonymous said...

The increase in referrals have a trickle down effect on other departments in Human Services such as Drug and Alcohol, Mental Health, and Early Intervention. This has taken a toll on staff trying to keep up with the service demand as some departments like Early Intervention has been under staffed for years and have extremely high case load size. More caseworkers are needed across the board and some staff have advocated for this for years only to be halted by the Administration. Morale gets lower as the days get longer.

Bernie O'Hare said...

2:59, it is in the article.

Anonymous said...

Just today a MH worker quit on the spot to provide another tangible example of what is going on at NorCo HS.

Anonymous said...

What will they do after hiring 10 more positions when the following year the referrals become less. Will they lay them off or keep them on and cost the taxpayers even more. I say they just need to work a little harder and deal with it. Stop crying.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! "He currently has 65 caseworkers." I believe lehigh has 130

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is if it were not for the crippling lease and the massive building buyout there would be more money for services. John Brown inherited a real problem with this building. He does not have much leeway.