Every day, across New York State, thousands of children are at risk of abuse and neglect, and the people who are responsible for their protection – Child Protective Services (CPS) workers – are often overwhelmed by caseloads that practically guarantee that many children will fall through the gaping holes in the social safety net. In some places, caseloads can run up to nearly 70 active cases per month.
That’s why advocates for at-risk children gathered today in Binghamton to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the Child Protective Services Safety Act, which the Assembly and Senate approved in June.
This legislation (A.10506/Lupardo/S.2691/Golden) would limit child protective services caseloads to 15 active cases per month, which would give workers more time to devote to cases for the children most at risk. While it would take about two years for the legislation to fully take effect, it’s a big step toward helping these children and their families, the workers who provide the services and the communities as a whole.
One major proponent of this legislation, and the host of today’s Binghamton event, is the Civil Service Employees Association, the union representing about 1,500 CPS workers statewide. According to CSEA President Danny Donohue, the state has a moral obligation to protect at-risk children.
“Many of the decisions child protective services must make every day can literally mean life or death for the children in their care,” CSEA President Danny Donohue. “These workers see horrific cases of abuse every day; the stress over agonizing about the choices they must make is unimaginable. Signing this legislation into law won’t just help alleviate caseloads for workers who are already stretched too thin, but will save lives.”
Donohue has said challenges for CPS workers are overwhelming and getting worse, particularly because of the sluggish economy and the heroin epidemic across the state.
“Every night, child protective workers go to sleep worrying about the children they saw that day. They wish they could do more,” Donohue said. “This legislation will afford CPS workers the opportunity to do more to help the most vulnerable children in our communities.”
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, the bill’s prime sponsor in the NYS Assembly, said the legislation was based on a 2006 study by the State Office of Children and Family Services that found smaller caseloads were directly related to better outcomes for children.
“Statistics have shown that smaller caseloads result in better outcomes for the children served by CPS in New York City, where similar caseload limits have been put in place,” Lupardo said. “By capping the number of cases for workers statewide, employees will be in a better position to efficiently serve these children, improving their safety and wellbeing.”
CSEA has launched a statewide campaign aimed at raising awareness of the impact of the overwhelming caseloads on children, and urging the Governor to sign the legislation into law.