“Our caseloads have doubled, and, in many cases tripled,” says Lydia Salinas, an emergency response social worker. She says that’s because of the bad economy, which has left more people than ever in need of help from social workers.
As caseloads grow, the children who need services the most are often shortchanged by the system. Social workers, who dedicate their careers to helping children, are stretched thin and find themselves making difficult choices every day.
Another problem is that cases have become more complex. “I’ve noticed that issues have become more complex both on the requirements that social workers have to follow and that the problems of parents have become more complicated as well,” says Mario Bermudez, a child welfare social worker in Ventura County.
Bermudez says the bad economy has forced families to live together.
“When families are trying to resolve multiple complex issues, this also takes more time to try and find resources to assist them….we have to spend more time with families and it also increases the time that we need to complete our documentation,” Bermudez adds. When social workers visit a home where there are multiple families, it takes more time to identify issues and more time to complete paperwork.
Data from a Pew Research study back up Bermudez’s observations. The study shows a sharp increase in the number of young adults, ages 25 to 34, moving back in with their parents, mainly for economic reasons.
Social Workers are Urging the Board of Supervisors to Make Critical Changes
Social workers represented by SEIU 721 have been meeting with Ventura County Board of Supervisors and pressing for change. They have stepped-up and presented important information on the negative impact on children and the larger community, shared specific examples of problems, and suggested ways in which the Board can make much needed changes.
Social Workers’ key asks are:
- Hire additional social workers to ensure child safety.
- Reduce caseloads to meet national standards.
- Improve safety measures in the field for all social workers.
SEIU 721 and social workers in Ventura County will continue to lobby the Board of Supervisors to provide resources to keep children safe in our community. Stay tuned for video snippets with more information regarding the growing challenges of serving the needs of children in Ventura County.
Are you a social worker seeing the same impacts on children from high caseloads? If so, contact Laura Espinosa, Lead Worksite Organizer in Ventura County at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your story.