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Jan 27, 2016 3:20 PM

DCYF: Dozens of new child welfare workers must be hired for NH to provide 24/7 coverage

CONCORD - More child protection workers and supervisors would have to be hired for the state Division of Children, Youth and Families to provide round the clock and weekend responses to abuse and neglect reports.

"The Department cannot use existing staff to assure a complete 24/7 response," a report from Director Lorraine Bartlett to the Commission on Child Abuse Fatalities reads.

The division is already suffering from high turnover and very high caseloads even without scheduled additional hours for staff coverage, the report notes.

In all, the Division calculates that more than 40 new child protection workers and eight new supervisors would have to be hired to deal with an increased caseload and added work hours.

"Once the agency has been able to increase its day to day staff capacity to manage the caseload/workload during the hours of
8 a.m. to 8 p.m., it is our belief that we can then rotate staff regionally to work an on-call shift from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. weekdays and 24 hours on weekends," the report concludes.

If lawmakers do find funding, it would still take almost a year to staff up and train everyone for the 24/7 system to be fully implemented, the report indicates.

Lawmakers are currently considering legislation to address several recommendations from the Commission on Child Abuse Fatalities and expect to extend the commission's work for another year.

The bill would give access to law enforcement for all abuse records of children following their death and would lengthen the time all files would have to be kept. The work of the commission also would be extended a year under this commission-backed bill.

Legislators have said they do not plan to increase the division's budget this year.

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