Youth Services Law

Checking on Social Workers

Posted In Miscellaneous

The Florida Department of Children and Families is experimenting with new technology that will require caseworkers to use GPS-like devices to check in every time they visit with a child on their case load.  The move is in response to an incident in which a case worker lied about checking on a child, who has disappeared from the system and is presumed dead. 

Color me unimpressed. The article describing the new technology notes that case workers caught falsifying records "repeatedly complained they had been assigned too many children to watch."  It would be easy to dismiss those complaints, except that studies of social services systems routinely find that case workers are struggling with high caseloads.  This federal survey, for example, found that case workers in Union County, Florida, have caseloads three times the number considered optimal.

Technology cannot create more hours in a day.  I understand that state budgets are hurting, and I am generally a fiscal conservative.  But there are some things that government has to do, and taking care of children when families cannot is one of those things.   Until state legislators start putting enough money in budgets to hire an adequate number of case workers, there is no amount or kind of technology that can prevent these sort of tragedies.

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