CPS caseload sizes at ‘unmanageable levels’ in Monroe County

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – March is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and while Monroe County has hired 50 new people to investigate complaints of abuse and neglect, those caseworkers are nowhere near ready to hit the streets. That means the current CPS workers are overburdened and exhausted with caseloads higher than they’ve ever seen before.    

The good news is that 26 new CPS case workers started this week, and another 24 will begin work next week in Monroe County. 

“Hopefully, if they’re trained and they do stick around, we will have possibly 10 new teams of caseworkers,” says Jessica Kilpatrick, senior CPS caseworker. 

Kilpatrick wanted to make sure that the Monroe County legislature knew just how dire the current situation is so, she spoke at their meeting on Thursday evening.

“We are still completely burdened because these people are not trained,” she said, “most caseworkers that are on full rotation have caseload sizes between 50 and 60.”

Just a few years ago, the Monroe County legislature considered capping each CPS worker at 15 cases, now they’re more than triple that. 

At an event earlier in the day Thursday, the Monroe County Commissioner of Human Services briefly addressed the burden.

“I know how hard and intimately our team works, how blessed we are, it’s not an easy job but they show up and they show out every single day,” she said. 

There’s only so long the current caseworkers can maintain these caseloads.

“We are dealing with a number of really stressful safety issues and although we don’t have any solution really without addressing broader problems, we are doing the best we can,” Kilpatrick added. 

In a statement, the Federation of Social Workers which represents the caseworkers says:

Caseload sizes in Child Protective Services continue to be at unmanageable levels, far exceeding what experts in the field recommend. We, therefore, have serious concerns for children and families in our community that are in need of intervention and services. We are concerned as well about the impact this situation has on our caseworkers in terms of stress, low morale and burnout. We do acknowledge however, that the County appears to be making an honest effort to hire as many new caseworkers as possible, as quickly as possible. The union will continue to monitor the ongoing commitment and effectiveness of those efforts.”

The Commissioner of Human Services was not available for an interview on Friday but a spokeswoman for Monroe County sent the following statement:

 “Like all other employers, Monroe County has been challenged by our county having the lowest unemployment rate in three decades. To address staffing challenges, the county has implemented a $1,000 quarterly retention bonus through 2024 and increased pay rates across all job titles. Ensuring we safeguard our vulnerable children and families, county additionally initiated a robust recruitment campaign for caseworkers, resulting in the recent hire of 50 new staffers. Caseloads have increased due to the staffing challenges, however we expect those loads to decrease significantly as we onboard these new hires. There is not a two year training period for new case workers. There are six weeks of state-mandated and following that, all of our new case workers receive additional training, support and mentoring for at least 6 months. “