Watson Pleased More Attention Given to Children and Youth Caseworker Issues

HARRISBURG – Rep. Kathy Watson (R-Bucks/144th), chairman of the House Children and Youth Committee, today said she is pleased additional attention is being directed to the critical issue of caseworker retention and training in county Children and Youth Services agencies at the county level.

“When our committee spent considerable time and effort updating state laws with respect to child abuse and child protection, we immediately knew that caseworkers are overwhelmed by the situations in which they can find themselves and that training is essential to ensure children can have the best outcomes. I’m glad Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has also recognized this critical issue,” Watson said. “Children – and their protection – deserve all the attention they can get.”

Watson pointed out that caseworker retention and training took center stage in the Children and Youth Committee during the 2015-16 session when the committee last spring held two lengthy hearings with a wide range of testifiers – social work experts, intake supervisors, caseworkers, county administrators and child welfare advocates.

Those hearings not only provided a necessary insight into CYS offices around the state to committee members, but are directed to the development of further legislation – and even regulatory and internal department changes – that would lead to additional improvements.

“When we wrote that legislation, we also recognized that more will need to be done in the years ahead,” Watson added. “We wanted to see the laws in action and determine what further types of training or additional resources are needed. And ultimately, state government and counties must work together to ensure that caseworkers are properly trained and have the resources they need to address some of the most difficult situations.”

The issue received renewed attention this week when DePasquale released an audit of the Children and Youth agency in York County, which had been under provisional licenses. As part of that audit, DePasquale announced a new report on the “State of the Child” to assess the state of caseworkers across the state.

“I am looking forward to reading this report, but I also know there is so much more we can do to help. That is why I am also concerned about the governor’s plan to merge four state agencies into a larger, massive bureaucracy, where I fear that children – and their voices – will be lost among the hundreds of other issues competing for time and resources,” Watson added. “I am anxious to read more details about the governor’s plan to see how children will be better protected.”

Representative Kathy Watson
144th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton
KathyWatson144.com / Facebook.com/RepWatson

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