Bill Pushed By Kennedy to Improve CPS Transparency, Caseload Oversight Passes State Legislature

 
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Following Conflicting Reports Related to Caseload Levels for CPS Workers, Kennedy Secures Approval of Bill to Improve Transparency by Requiring Disclosure of CPS Caseloads.

Kennedy-backed bill requires local CPS agencies to outline steps they’ll take to reduce caseloads.

Kennedy: As Erie County Adds More Workers, This Bill Will Shed Light on Future Needs to Reduce Caseloads.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, announced the State Legislature has approved legislation he’s been pushing to improve transparency within Child Protective Services. The Kennedy-backed bill, which aims to sharpen public knowledge of CPS operations, will require local Departments of Social Services to report specific details about worker caseloads in response to growing concerns that individual caseworkers are being overburdened with caseloads in excess of the state’s recommendations of 12 to 15 cases. The bill (S.7524) also requires local agencies to outline plans to reduce caseloads for workers.

“Unfortunately, in communities across the state, CPS workers are overburdened with extremely high caseloads that are well above the state’s recommendations to ensure thorough investigations,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “This legislation will improve oversight of caseloads across the state and shed light on any local needs for increased funding or additional resources. With the critical information this legislation will provide, we will be better geared for our ongoing fight to ensure Child Protective Services has the resources they need to protect children and help families in our community.”

In many counties throughout the state, individual CPS caseworkers are handling extremely heavy caseloads due to a lack of sufficient resources provided at the local level. It has been reported that caseloads for workers in Erie County CPS are as high as 40 or 50 cases, while New York State recommends caseloads between just 12 to 15 cases.

CPS caseworkers have an extremely difficult and important job to do, and it becomes even more difficult to thoroughly investigate every case when their caseloads are excessively high – especially if their caseloads are three times the state-recommended levels as they have been in Erie County.

“As Erie County takes the much-needed action of adding more CPS workers, this legislation will ensure our community is regularly updated with accurate information about the need for more workers or new legislative changes,” Kennedy said.

High caseloads can be a significant factor impacting CPS investigations and responsiveness, but state law currently does not require local CPS agencies to disclose worker caseloads. This bill, which Kennedy cosponsored, will change that by requiring an annual report on CPS caseloads.

The legislation directs local Departments of Social Services to release an annual report that outlines average caseloads for their workers for each month and to detail the number of workers who have an average caseload of over 15 cases. The legislation also requires local departments to outline steps they will take to lower the average caseload of CPS workers. This report will better inform the State Legislature of necessary reforms, and ensure counties and the state are aware of any need for additional resources within specific counties.

“Increasing transparency and ensuring necessary information is accessible to the public will make Child Protective Services more responsive and strengthen protections for children in Western New York and across the state,” Kennedy said.

The bill, which passed the Senate today and was approved in the Assembly earlier this week, will now go to the Governor to be signed into law.

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Senator Timothy M. Kennedy represents the New York State Senate’s 63rd District, which is comprised of the town of Cheektowaga, the city of Lackawanna and nearly all of the city of Buffalo. More information is available at http://kennedy.nysenate.gov.