BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Louisiana child welfare employees gave light to what they say are major issues at the state agency in a recent survey.
According to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) child welfare employees said they’re not being paid enough, cited added caseloads and “unrealistic expectations,” and feel a lack of support from supervisors and managers.
Results from the survey showed that 88.8% of employees are passionate about their work but 54.1% are satisfied with their job.
Changes the agency has introduced include initiatives to improve communication with leadership, hiring, changes made to work/life balance, and pay structure adjustments.
“DCFS has proposed and already begun work on a range of initiatives to address issues with job satisfaction, job performance, and leadership,” according to the auditor’s report. “Examples of initiatives include establishing a DEIB Unit and Council, developing a 24/7 coverage model, hosting hiring fairs, streamlining the hiring process, adjusting pay structures, creating a Leadership Professional Development Program, and contracting for an Employee Assistance Program to help mitigate the level of stress, anxiety, and secondary traumatic stress that CW staff experience.”
Former DCFS Secretary Marketa Walters resigned in early November after reporting 61 child deaths as of October in a press conference. She stated staffing shortages as a major problem for the agency on several occasions.
In Baton Rouge, two children, two-year-old Mitchell Robinson and 20-month-old J’ahrei Paul, died of drug overdoses months apart this year. In both cases, DCFS launched internal reviews. In Paul’s case, DCFS confirmed that his case fell through the cracks after an employee resigned and a manager called out sick.
Acting Secretary Terri Ricks spoke to Senate committee members on Nov. 18 where she said the agency was working to “reset the culture.” DCFS continues its hiring efforts with a campaign to draw new employees in, hiring fairs, new programs, and a new process for faster hiring.
“We are committed to make DCFS a workplace where all employees feel satisfied in their jobs and supported by management,” said Ricks in response to survey results.
To view a full report of the survey, visit www.lla.la.gov.