Statement from Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates
LOUISVILLE, KY – Social workers play a critical role in the child welfare system by protecting the well-being of children and supporting families in need. Today, Governor Andy Beshear recognized that necessity by announcing the steps his Administration will be taking to reduce turnover within the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services and improve retention of a strong workforce.
Each day, state social workers face critical decisions about the lives of these vulnerable children while working in stressful environments with high caseloads, safety concerns, and limited training and resources. These conditions, coupled with low salaries and administrative burdens, affects the recruitment and retention of qualified staff.
The Governor and Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander shared that in the immediate, state social workers will receive a 10 percent raise within the current state budget. There will also be a pilot program to expedite the hiring process and proposals in the upcoming state budget to fund loan forgiveness and Hero Pay for state social workers. Kentucky Youth Advocates applauds these thoughtful first step measures to address DCBS workforce recruitment and retention, while also acknowledging that these are only first steps and that comprehensive reforms and investments are needed to create lasting change for workers and those they serve.
A qualified and stable workforce is the foundation of the child welfare system, and we are hopeful that the Beshear Administration and the General Assembly agree that the DCBS workforce must be prioritized and equipped to adequately meet the challenges impacting children and families. We urge the General Assembly to bolster investments in recruiting and retaining DCBS staff to increase chances of stability for families and permanency for children and to promote smart fiscal outcomes for the state budget.
Learn more about the 2022 Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children priority to Strengthen the DCBS Workforce to Best Serve Vulnerable Children and Families and additional state policy and budget priorities at kyyouth.org/blueprintky.
About Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at www.kyyouth.org.