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Oct 26, 2016 5:48 PM

NH DCYF addresses interim report of low staffing, high case loads

CONCORD - The state's Commission to Review Child Abuse Fatalities expressed concern in their first meeting since a scathing report was released on the NH Division of Children Youth and Families. The interim report, conducted by The Center for Support of Families, shows DCYF is understaffed with cases being left open far longer than they should be.

“I acknowledge that, I think that's something we have to address,” said Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers.

According to Meyers, poor staffing is the root of many of the issues. He told the committee they're working toward an interim plan for 24/7 coverage.

“We need to ensure that we have the proper pay scale so that we can attract and maintain and retain workers who want to be able to do this work,” Meyers said.

DCYF Director Lorraine Bartlett addressed the issues they have attracting potential employees because of the negative view some may have with the agency.

“We also believe with our supervisors and our leadership, we make a concerted effort to let staff know when they're doing a good job,” Bartlett said.

Commissioner Meyers and the committee both acknowledged, but could not discuss a civil lawsuit filed against DCYF that claims negligence. They say the safety and well-being of New Hampshire's children is their top priority.

Questions remain about how the agency was able to get so far behind.

“Why this has been allowed to go on for so long, why aren't there internal measures that would throw up some red flags and say wait a minute we're falling behind here,” said State Senator Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry).

“I don't think you can point to one person or one entity in the state and say why did this happen. I think we have to work collaboratively and together to address these issues,” Meyers said.

The final report is expected as early as the end of November.

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