DSS staffing changes could assist with caseworker supervision

(Photo via Cortland County).

Changes to a vacant position at Cortland County Department of Social Services (DSS) could help with staff supervision.

The proposed change to abolish a senior caseworker role in favor of a “grade B supervisor” job was recently approved unanimously by the County Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee. 

There are currently 28 caseworkers at DSS, seven senior caseworkers, and six “grade B supervisors,” according to DSS Commissioner Kristen Monroe. 

“Within our current structure and workload demands, the senior caseworker positions are asked to supervise, train, and handle special caseload assignments,” Monroe said in a memo to legislators. “The demands on these positions make it difficult to do all tasks adequately and lead to unrealistic expectations for the title.”

Monroe said Tuesday there are vacancies across the department. 

“When one ‘grade B supervisor’ is gone, we don’t have the depth for day-to-day supervision,” she added. “The new title is a workforce retention tool. A ‘grade B title’ is better compensated and encourages others to take that type of responsibility.” 

Typically, a senior caseworker can earn anywhere from $26.4087-$33.4267 per hour for 40 hours of work a week based on work experience. The proposed “grade B supervisor,” which would be effective Feb. 24 could earn anywhere from $28.4246-$35.9782 per hour based on experience.

“One of the supervisors is in adult services, one in coordinated children services, four of them are in child welfare,” she said. “When I look at what this would do, it would be one supervisor for five employees. It is a very healthy ratio.”

Monroe said the department suffers from woes with staffing experienced at other departments like Oswego County’s DSS, where there have been high profile incidents investigated by state authorities in the last year. 

“(About) 70 percent of our caseworkers are overseeing more than the recommended 15 cases,” she said. “We are in dire straits, still having trouble recruiting and retaining.”

Stock, who voted in favor of the changes in staffing, commended Monroe for her thorough assessment of her department and the memo sent to legislators.

“It justifies everything you are asking for,” he said. “I hope we can get this commit of a report by each department head when they come to us. It makes legislators understand.”