CPS struggles to find enough workers in southern Mississippi

GULFPORT, Mississippi (WLOX) – A dozen officials from the Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services sat in the otherwise empty lobby of the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center Performing Arts Center Thursday.

Their sign-up sheet for potential employees at their career fair was blank. For Mark Williamson, Director of Workforce Welfare at CPS, it was frustrating.

“There are several professions that people don’t run to. People don’t run to be police, people don’t run for the army, people don’t run to be frontline social workers, ”he said.

“We need more workers to help us. “

Nationally, the turnover rate for social workers is around 45% because the job is so emotionally demanding.

CPC’s new commissioner, Andrea Sanders, has put in place a program to help keep workers longer. Williams is part of the program that aims to help young workers cope with work stress.

To make sure they stay well and stay on the job.

“The community needs our work and we need the support of the community to help us find and identify the people who come to our side and to work and take care of families here,” he said. “Because people don’t run for these jobs, they don’t. So we have to go out and try to involve the community to try to recruit people for the jobs. “

Tasheema Martin, director of workforce development at CPS, said they were looking for child and family protection specialists, survey specialists and area supervisors.

The first two positions require a bachelor’s degree in social work or related fields such as psychology, sociology or criminal justice. A master’s degree is required for supervisors.

Mississippi has operated for years under a federal mandate to reduce the workload of their social workers, but keeping workers has been a struggle.

Mike Dickenson was elected a judge of the Harrison County Youth Court in 2018.

“One of the problems I saw at the start was turnover, turnover, turnover. They would come in, right out of school and they would receive training to do the job and they would leave, ”he said. “It was a cycle.”

“It’s hard work,” said Williamson. “Technically, it’s a vocation.

“The number of cases could vary between 10 and 15 per worker,” Martin said. “Where the ideal situation would have workers under 10 years old.

There are currently approximately 3,800 children in CPS care.

“It is certainly difficult, but we are taking the necessary steps to change the course from what it was before,” she said.

In a direct call, Williamson said, “We need you because the Gulf Coast needs us.”

Copyright 2021 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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