BLAIR COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)–Over a dozen Blair County Children, Youth, and Family Service workers attended Tuesday’s commissioner’s meeting to address their ongoing staffing shortage.
Children, Youth, and Family Services handles all the community’s concerns about a child’s safety. They provide different resources that ensure the safety and well-being of a child.
Two caseworkers, Allison Morgan and Shelda Conklin spoke during public comment about their overwhelming caseloads and the high number of vacancies. Then, they further discussed that many workers had left the department because of the low wages.
“We are begging you to be child welfare champions for the kids and families of Blair County,” Morgan said at the podium.
Morgan has been working as a caseworker for three years and said she’s seen over 50 people leave the department for other jobs. She noted that there had not been a definite administrator since she started. Conklin said she’s seen two directors leave.
Currently, the county only has twelve caseworkers, with each worker being assigned to 30 different cases. A whole staff of caseworkers for the county is at 37. Each worker is doubling their load and becoming more burnt out. Morgan said the point of coming to the meeting is to express that this is still an ongoing problem.
“There have been people that have been with the agency much longer, like 10 to 15 years, and they’ve been experiencing this,” Morgan said. “So I think it’s just the point that this has been an ongoing issue for a while, and we just want to make it known to them just to see what’s been going on in our office.”
Commissioner Laura Burke was the only one to make remarks after the workers spoke on the issue. She’s been advocating for the workers for months and agreed with them on their statement. Burke spent multiple hours with some workers doing their jobs and learning how everyday tasks work.
“I hope you see me as a member of your team,” Burke said. “It’s hard because you can’t talk about case specifics; there are a lot of confidentiality issues. I’ve been advocating for some time that we need to do something, and I agree wholeheartedly with what they just said.”
Morgan said they appreciate all Commissioner Burke has done to advocate for the cause.
“We appreciate everything Commissioner Burke has done for the agency thus far,” Morgan said. “She stepped in once we had an administrator for a short period of time. She stepped in and has been helping. She was out of the field with me and getting that hands-on experience.”
The workers’ main point to resolve the issue was raising wages. They believe the high salaries would help recruit new employees and retain current ones. Currently, caseworkers make on average $30,000 a year.
“We would like to see higher wages all around the board,” Morgan said. “Everyone in our agency to retain current employees who have been there and are dedicated and hardworking. But also to bring more people in.”
The CYS workers plan to continue attending commissioner’s meetings until they see any changes.