On Aug. 15, we released a 10-point list of recommendations to strengthen and improve child and family services in Maine. The recommendations include reducing caseloads to the national standard, hiring additional support staff allowing caseworkers to focus more on their cases, cutting down on duplicative paperwork, and providing the workers with technology that adequately documents the level of risk in every instance. The recommendations follow our survey of the approximately 350 caseworkers and case aides we represent in the Maine Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) within the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Over 45 workers from Maine OCFS offices statewide participated in the survey. See full story. See survey results; see our recommendations.
“Several weeks ago, LePage said that more caseworkers would be hired at DHHS. Earlier this week, he said more caseworkers weren’t needed — at least in the interim. Instead, current caseworkers would get more training and an outdated computer system would be upgraded. The state should do all three.”
“MSEA-SEIU members for years have been calling attention to Gov. LePage’s refusal to address adequate staffing and recruitment and retention issues in Maine DHHS and throughout state government. MSEA-SEIU members have consistently raised concerns about staffing, technology and contracting out in labor-management committees, in the Legislature, at the bargaining table, and, most recently at the May 31 meeting of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee. We hear from caseworkers every day that they are fed up with trying to raise these issues to the deaf ears of department leadership and together they are standing up publicly for a meaningful voice and real investment solutions. If, after seven and a half years, the Governor is only now realizing we’ve been raising these and other concerns, he hasn’t been paying attention.”
“I haven’t read anywhere about his plan to address the foster care system,” one worker said of the governor’s proposal. “Where does he think these children will go?”
“How are we doing a good job for these kids, that we’ve removed them from their parents, they’re traumatized, they’re scared, and then we plop them in a hotel?”
“When you call 911 you expect to get a response on the line in very short order. Our fear is these kinds of staffing levels are insufficient for the people of Maine. It’s a big stressor for employees, they fear there could be a bad outcome.”
“If you’re in distress, you know there’s not a moment to lose. It doesn’t matter if you’re a member of the general public or you’re a first responder in need of support. They need to know that in short order they’re going to be able to get somebody on the line that can help.”
“Clearly, the administration’s word is not worth much. LePage and Hamilton have talked a lot about confronting the problems in child protection services head on, but their actions say otherwise.”
Kennebec Journal editorial
MSEA-SEIU members at the Maine DHHS Office of Child and Family Services in Augusta wear purple as a growing and strong voice for themselves and the quality public services they provide. Thank you, OCFS workers, for all you do for Maine people.
Announce your candidacy for the 2019 MSEA-SEIU Board of Directors. You will be elected by fellow members who are delegates to the Annual Meeting on October 26 and 27. Delegates will elect 10 (ten) MSEA-SEIU members to serve on our union’s Board of Directors: two directors each from Areas I, II, and III, plus two Retiree Directors and two Alternate Directors.
You can be involved in setting the direction of your union representing your fellow union members when you serve on the MSEA-SEIU Board of Directors. To announce your candidacy, please submit a candidate statement and photo for publication in the next Maine Stater. Click here for a link to a poster for your union bulletin board.
Seventy five years ago, on March 18, 1943, about 200 state workers converged on the State House around a common purpose. As public servants, they knew they needed a voice in their jobs and in their pay, benefits and working conditions. They formed the Maine State Employees Association and began advocating for each other and the work they do. Read President Welton’s column here.