“Eyes on the children and involving the families is a key strategy for ensuring safety. The management team, social workers and really all levels of our organization are working very hard to achieve these goals,” Glendon told the Journal-News. “We have several tools that help us, namely our quality assurance department and our evaluation process, but it is really the commitment and hard work of all the staff that allows us to be successful and to reach that level.”
Commissioner Cindy Carpenter recently expressed concern about high turnover at the agency. Glendon said there were currently 30 vacancies out of 163 staff. The agency has had an average of 328 children in detention this year. There are always chronic turnover issues in the child welfare system, this is not new to the county. These jobs are very difficult and Glendon said “people leave this profession for a variety of reasons”.
“We continue to hire and onboard new people, we just have to keep reviewing our processes, making sure our people are well equipped to do this job,” Glendon said. “The staff who are here continue to be focused on their mission and work very hard to protect children and families.”
There are often batches of people hired for both openings and the Executive Director of Employment and Family Services, Julie Gilbert, told the Journal-News that they hire staff in batches for purposes of training. She said that despite the staffing issues, they still make sure monthly meetings and quick surveys are done and she was not at all surprised that they received state recognition.
“If you don’t do anything else, you see your kids,” Gilbert said. “We are still able to meet these important mandates and performance measures, but it takes a lot of work. We really appreciate our staff for stepping up and continuing their efforts to ensure children are seen and are safe.
The BCCS agency has had its share of strife, battling a highly divisive social worker strike in 2014, among other issues. Carpenter said she was very proud of everything the agency does and the state award was well deserved.
“I think this is the culmination of years of hard work the agency has put in place to build a system that supports families,” Carpenter said. “There have been layers and layers of reform over the past decade. We had a dark time when we had a strike at Children’s Services and from there we went on to win a state award, that says a lot about the administration that worked so hard to bring these changes.