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OPINION
February 21, 2013
Re "'Blind leading blind' at county child services," Feb. 14 Certainly, a child services worker who does not properly investigate abuse cases by asking thorough questions deserves blame. But let's look at another side. As The Times notes, a single social worker can be responsible for up to 160,000 abuse hot-line calls a year. For a standard five-day workweek, that equates to more than 600 calls a day. The sheer number of calls is so overwhelming that it becomes unfair to lambaste the workers for not committing 100% to each case.
ARTICLES BY DATE
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 13, 2013 | By Seema Mehta
After days of strikes, Los Angeles County and its social worker employees reached a deal Friday to end the labor action by reducing caseloads, one of the last sticking points to signing a contract with a union that represents 55,000 county workers. “After very difficult negotiations, we reached a tentative agreement,” said county spokesman David Sommers. “This agreement provides for a way forward in providing the best services to the children and families of this county.” “It wasn't easy, but we made history,” said Chychy Ekeochah, a social worker and chair of the bargaining unit for her colleagues.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 26, 2013 | Sandy Banks
The first items Nancy Razo pulled out of her binder when we sat down to talk were obituaries of three co-workers who died of strokes that Razo believes were linked to stress on the job. "These were women who dedicated their lives to public service, to helping kids," she said. They were, like her, social workers in the Palmdale office of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Razo thinks they were done in by high caseloads, long hours and constant demands to "get it done now. " Their deaths feel like collateral damage in a battle against child abuse that only grabs the public's attention when a child's death makes news.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 13, 2013 | By Seema Mehta and Abby Sewell
After a multi-day strike by social workers, Los Angeles County and its largest public employee union have tentatively reached an agreement that calls for the hiring of 450 child-welfare employees, reducing caseloads and increasing scheduling flexibility, officials announced Friday. The deal leaves one remaining dispute: the timing of a 6% pay raise. "Our social workers are in a much better place than before we went on strike, but the real important thing is the children of Los Angeles County who need their services are in a much better place," said Bob Schoonover, president of Service Employees International Union Local 721. "This really was a strike over child safety.
NEWS
March 27, 1987
More than 200 Fresno County welfare workers walked off their jobs because of stalled negotiations over demands that client caseloads be reduced. They claim that their caseloads are the highest in the state. A field organizer for the Service Employees International Union Local 535 said workers have an average of 204 cases each, compared to 160 in other counties.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 7, 2000
Re "County Foster Care System 'Broken,' Grand Jury Reports," July 1: Our foster care system's main problem is caseload. Not even Superman could handle the outrageously high caseloads L.A. social workers are supposed to cope with. If we really care about these children, hire more social workers to bring the caseloads down to 12 (like New York) instead of four times that number. There are hundreds of truly dedicated men and women out there on the front lines, working with everything they've got to help these children, but they are simply overwhelmed.
OPINION
August 8, 1999
I read with some interest "Probation Officers Strain to Keep Up With Caseloads" (July 26). Not all people on probation need supervision. Those who do need supervision do not all need the same level of supervision. People with high potential for violence and other predatory behavior need very intensive supervision, much higher than can be effective in caseloads of 100 or even 50. Even high-risk cases can be effectively supervised with positive results, if done properly with appropriate sanctions and consequences.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 13, 2013 | By Seema Mehta
After days of strikes, Los Angeles County and its social worker employees reached a deal Friday to end the labor action by reducing caseloads, one of the last sticking points to signing a contract with a union that represents 55,000 county workers. “After very difficult negotiations, we reached a tentative agreement,” said county spokesman David Sommers. “This agreement provides for a way forward in providing the best services to the children and families of this county.” “It wasn't easy, but we made history,” said Chychy Ekeochah, a social worker and chair of the bargaining unit for her colleagues.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 6, 2013 | By Seema Mehta
During a raucous rally of striking social workers on Friday, Los Angeles County child-welfare chief Philip Browning made a surprise appearance before the crowd and urged them to return to work. “I support social workers, but I want you to come back to work,” he said, prompting sustained boos from the crowd of several hundred county employees rallying in front of the headquarters of the county Department of Children and Family Services. “We need you.” Friday marked the second day of a strike by county social workers, with similar numbers participating as the previous day. They protested at work sites throughout the county before heading to the late-morning rally, where they were addressed by elected officials, including U.S. Reps.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 10, 2013 | By Abby Sewell, This post has been corrected. See below for details.
Seven people were arrested for sitting in the middle of a downtown street in an act of civil disobedience Tuesday during a protest by striking Los Angeles County social workers. County child-welfare workers, represented by Service Employees International Union Local 721, have been on strike since Thursday in a dispute over caseloads. On Tuesday, 1,710 social workers and supervisors in the Department of Children and Family Services took part in the strike -- 57% of those scheduled to work -- county spokesman David Sommers said.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 10, 2013 | By Abby Sewell
Los Angeles County social workers will return to work and resume contract negotiations Wednesday after a six-day strike, union officials announced Tuesday evening. The child-welfare workers went on strike over a contract dispute about how to handle heavy caseloads. All of the 55,000 workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 721, including the social workers, have been working without a contract for two months. SEIU Local 721 President Bob Schoonover credited a massive rally staged by social workers and supporters Tuesday outside the Hall of Administration with bringing county officials back to the table.
OPINION
December 10, 2013
Re "County strike might escalate," Dec. 7 I watch the strike by social workers in the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services with great interest and hope. I left the DCFS after nearly 12 years as a social worker and then as a supervisor. Social workers want children to be safe and to return home once their parents address the risk and abuse issues; if the parents cannot do so, finding a permanent home for the children is the priority. The current working conditions of high caseloads, lack of foster placements and onerous paperwork prevent social workers from doing their job effectively.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 10, 2013 | By Abby Sewell, This post has been corrected. See below for details.
Seven people were arrested for sitting in the middle of a downtown street in an act of civil disobedience Tuesday during a protest by striking Los Angeles County social workers. County child-welfare workers, represented by Service Employees International Union Local 721, have been on strike since Thursday in a dispute over caseloads. On Tuesday, 1,710 social workers and supervisors in the Department of Children and Family Services took part in the strike -- 57% of those scheduled to work -- county spokesman David Sommers said.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 6, 2013 | By Seema Mehta and Abby Sewell
Striking social workers took to the picket lines for a second day Friday, with no progress reported in negotiations with Los Angeles County and a probable escalation of work-site actions next week by the county's largest public-employee union. "We intend to ramp it up," said Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU Local 721, which represents 55,000 county employees - including 3,600 social workers and their supervisors - who have been working without a contract for two months. "This is not going to be an easy fight.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 6, 2013 | By Seema Mehta
During a raucous rally of striking social workers on Friday, Los Angeles County child-welfare chief Philip Browning made a surprise appearance before the crowd and urged them to return to work. “I support social workers, but I want you to come back to work,” he said, prompting sustained boos from the crowd of several hundred county employees rallying in front of the headquarters of the county Department of Children and Family Services. “We need you.” Friday marked the second day of a strike by county social workers, with similar numbers participating as the previous day. They protested at work sites throughout the county before heading to the late-morning rally, where they were addressed by elected officials, including U.S. Reps.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 26, 2013 | Sandy Banks
The first items Nancy Razo pulled out of her binder when we sat down to talk were obituaries of three co-workers who died of strokes that Razo believes were linked to stress on the job. "These were women who dedicated their lives to public service, to helping kids," she said. They were, like her, social workers in the Palmdale office of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Razo thinks they were done in by high caseloads, long hours and constant demands to "get it done now. " Their deaths feel like collateral damage in a battle against child abuse that only grabs the public's attention when a child's death makes news.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 6, 2013 | By Seema Mehta and Abby Sewell
Striking social workers took to the picket lines for a second day Friday, with no progress reported in negotiations with Los Angeles County and a probable escalation of work-site actions next week by the county's largest public-employee union. "We intend to ramp it up," said Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU Local 721, which represents 55,000 county employees - including 3,600 social workers and their supervisors - who have been working without a contract for two months. "This is not going to be an easy fight.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 10, 2013 | By Abby Sewell
Los Angeles County social workers will return to work and resume contract negotiations Wednesday after a six-day strike, union officials announced Tuesday evening. The child-welfare workers went on strike over a contract dispute about how to handle heavy caseloads. All of the 55,000 workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 721, including the social workers, have been working without a contract for two months. SEIU Local 721 President Bob Schoonover credited a massive rally staged by social workers and supporters Tuesday outside the Hall of Administration with bringing county officials back to the table.
OPINION
December 17, 2012 | Jim Newton
If there are constants in the world of the Los Angeles Dependency Court, they are haste and confusion. Reports swirl through the building, hauled around on carts stacked high with papers. Lawyers scramble for translators, rifle through documents, dash in and out of courtrooms. Much of that is the result of a staggering workload for the lawyers who represent children caught up in this system because their parents have been accused of abusing or neglecting them. In 2008, the California Judicial Council recommended that lawyers for children in Dependency Court optimally should handle 77 clients at a time and certainly not more than 141. If those lawyers are assisted by a part-time investigator, the council concluded that they could handle a maximum of 188 clients.
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