More cases are being reported to Child Protective Services, but the number of cases with overdue investigations is dwindling both statewide and in Hall County.
Hall County has an estimated 101 overdue cases, down from 187 in the first week of July. Statewide, there were 3,300 overdue at that time, which has been reduced to 2,451 since mandatory overtime for caseworkers went into effect July 1. Gov. Nathan Deal has announced funding for 100 additional child welfare staff statewide.
More detailed information about Hall County cases and workers was not immediately available.
All child welfare workers in areas with overdue cases, including Hall County, are required to work a minimum of eight hours per week overtime until the backlog is eliminated.
Most of the 100 new hires will be field level caseworkers, but supervisory staff also will be added. These new hires are in addition to the 175 new case manager positions added earlier this year. Deal has pledged funding for 500 caseworkers statewide over the course of three years.
Ravae Graham, deputy director of legislative affairs and communications for the Department of Human Services, could not provide the exact number of new workers slated for Hall, but she said the county’s cases make up about 4 percent of overdue investigations, and that the new positions will be distributed according to the increase in investigations in each region.
Under agency policy, cases are overdue if they are not completed within 45 days, unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Graham said in a news release that reports of child abuse and neglect have risen from an average of 6,600 per month to an average of 8,400 over the course of the last year. A separate news release attributes the influx in cases to the opening of a centralized 24/7 call center for reports of child abuse and neglect.
Deal said in the release a goal of reducing caseloads to 15 cases per caseworker by 2017 has been set.
Interim Division of Family and Children Services Director Bobby Cagle said he anticipates the 275 new workers will have a positive effect on child safety statewide.
“Over the last several months, Georgia DFCS has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of reports of child maltreatment,” he said. “These 100 new positions, in addition to the 175 previously committed and hired July 1, will allow us to quickly improve safety for vulnerable children throughout the state.”