Mar 28, 2016 5:35 PM
CONCORD - A committee looking into the statewide agency that protects children is recommending it expand hours to be available 24/7 for law enforcement and families in crisis.
The Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) is currently understaffed and employees are scheduled to work Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Child Fatality Review Committee is recommending the agency figure out how to hire new employees that will cover the remaining hours in the day.
"We know that those first couple hours, certainly that first day are critical times for children," said committee chair Marc Clement.
The committee was formed following the deaths of two young children. In both cases, their mothers are facing charges.
DCYF employees said about 50 percent of new hires leave after just a few years. Employees said the job is high stress and there's complaints about antiquated cell phones and laptops. In some cases, employees do not have laptops needed for home visits, employees said.
"We're understaffed and people are stretched thin, which adds to the turnover," said Laurie Pelletier, a DCYF caseworker.
Pelletier also said the drug crisis is adding to the growing number of cases.
According to the committee, an interim plan will include more than a dozen new hires to staff from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. That plan should be in place by September 2016.
24/7 staffing needs would cost about $1.8 million. It's unclear when that would be in effect.
The committee is also working with the agency to address technology and equipment issues.
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