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Monroe Co. CPS workers make less compared to other counties

February 01, 2017 12:32 AM

On Friday, we told you Monroe County's child protective investigators are handling nearly two-and-a-half times the number of cases recommended by the federal government.

We dug deeper and asked why there's not a full staff to care for families in need in our area.

This is such a challenge: Monroe County's Department of Human Services has hired an HR coordinator to help identify and hire workers, but the commissioner says it has not been easy.

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"One of the other challenges we face is recruiting," says Corinda Crossdale, "caseworkers who are interested in coming to work in this field."

Monroe County's Human Services Commissioner Corinda Crossdale says she recognizes Child Protective Services is facing challenges. One of them: high caseloads. On the average, CPS investigators handle 29 cases a month. The federal recommendation is 12.

But is part of the problem is also salary. We compared Monroe County with three others in our area. Monroe County's starting pay came in at the bottom at $34,600. In neighboring Erie County, it's $38,700, $46,000 in Ontario County and $53,000 in Onondaga County.

Leanne Charlesworth says, "I think that our students are typically coming into social work because they have a passion for helping people. Money is usually not their first priority. They are looking for that joy in their work."

Monroe County now partners with Nazareth College and the College at Brockport's dual program to recruit graduates. Leanne Charlesworth runs the undergraduate social work program at Naz. She says a steady but small number of students choose child welfare. She says students have so many options. She also tells us, as passionate as students are going in, it's hard work.

"Often times, they are the kind of individuals who will work intensively and even though it’s challenging work they will give everything they have and over time they may find they're becoming exhausted," says Charlesworth. "We use the term 'compassion fatigue' which has replaced the term burnout."

We asked Charlesworth what would help graduates stay in the profession longer. She had a short list: Manageable caseloads -- that's number one. Other issues: Quality supervision, opportunities for professional development and the ability to care for themselves to minimize burnout or what she called "compassion overload."

Credits

Lynette Adams

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