Los Angeles Children's Social Workers Continue Strike Over Caseloads

Social workers continue to strike after contract negotations stalled last week over high caseloads and understaffing, employees say

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    Department of Children and Family Services workers strike over high caseloads on Dec. 5, 2013. Workers said support continues to flood in.

    Los Angeles County social workers continued to strike Monday in a protest against what they say are high caseloads and too little staff to properly look after the safety of children.

    Some 1,600 of the more than 3,000 social workers within the Department of Children and Family Services walked off the job for the demonstration on Dec. 5, and strikers said the number of supporters is growing.

    "Thousands of our co-workers are joining us on the picket line and community support is pouring in from across the county,” said children’s social worker Blanca Gomez.

    Workers in the Department of Public Social Services have joined the protests sparked when contract negotiations stalled after an agreement could not be made to reduce the social worker-to-child ratios, and to hire more workers, employees said.

    DCFS officials said 100 new social workers are expected to have a full caseload by next month and another 150 new social workers are expected to be at full capacity by summer next year.

    Another 150 to 200 potential social workers are slated for training in April.

    Director Philip Browning said those new hires should bring down caseloads countywide to a manageable 24 cases per social worker.

    Employees want the county to hire 595 new workers over the course of 17 months. They also propose that workers carry an average caseload of 21 children by 2015, as opposed to 31 children.

    A primary rally was being held at the 1st District Field Office in El Monte, but several others were planned throughout the county.

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