OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Frances Lanigan, DSS commissioner, updated the county Health Committee on how the new hires are working out in her department.
“It’s a very busy time. Our work plan is progressing. We’re meeting weekly to move it along. We’ve had to set up new work stations for people,” Lanigan said at Wednesday’s meeting. “We have had to move some people and adjust them for work flow purposes. It’s been a tremendous amount of work just to bring people into the office.”
Reports continue at an accelerated pace.
“We had 220 reports in July as compared to 179 in July as year ago,” she told the committee. “Over all, reports are running 25 percent higher than they did in 2008.”
Thirty-five out of the 36 new positions have been hired as of Aug. 24, she said.
Finding work stations for all of them has been a cooperative effort with Buildings and Grounds and with Central Services to be able to get phone lines moved appropriately, Lanigan said, adding the work will be about 65 percent complete by the end of the week.
The new staff has all gone through in-house orientation and will be meeting with other agencies soon.
All the new staff were paired up with experienced workers as they go through training, Lanigan noted.
“I did meet with Dr. (Joseph) Camerino (BOCES Superintendent) to identify strategies as to how to approach the schools. He said the he was willing to be the pilot for the outreach and realistically, it will be a district by district approach that we have to take in order to really get their attention,” Lanigan said.
She will send him a letter detailing what they’d like to do with his staff, “which is basically a dialogue about building understanding and cooperation, recognizing that there are areas that we don’t understand about each other and that we need to understand and also that there may be areas where we don’t always agree but we need to respect that on both sides.”
The BOCES staff is more than willing to work with DSS so that when they go out the nine districts, they can refine and improve on the process as they go along, the commissioner explained.
Lanigan also provided the committee members with a peek at the extensive training DSS workers undergo.
“Essentially what I did is bring you all the documents, the workbooks that they get sent back from state training. This isn’t even our local training that we do,” she said gesturing to the stack of notebooks and binders on the table in front of her. “From the state training, these are the kinds of workbooks that they come back with.”
The new hires go through a basic training and then Child Protective Services Response Training. There are also assessments doing in conjunction with the training.
“The workers do come back with a basic child protective manual, which really is a resource guide for them to use as a child protective worker,” she said.
Caseworkers currently try to juggle 15 or more cases.
The new hires will begin tackling their own cases starting in December, the commissioner said after the meeting.
“It’s been a lot of work, But, I’m sure it’s going to be worth it in the end,” Lanigan said.