SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento County’s 2019-2020 budget is calling for staffing cuts within the Department of Child, Family and Adult Services.
In total, the county says 55 vacant positions will be eliminated.
“My first response was you have got to be kidding me!” said Ed Howard, senior counsel of the University of San Diego School of Law Children’s Advocacy Institute.
The Children’s Advocacy Institute often lobbies for California’s foster children.
Howard said Sacramento County’s latest budget is a bad idea.
“That you’re going to place abused and neglected, the most vulnerable children in this county in the crosshairs of a misguided budget proposal, you have got to be kidding me,” Howard said.
Twenty-seven of the vacancies within DCFAS are social worker positions. Five are within Senior and Adult Services, while 22 are Child Protective Services employees.
According to Sacramento County:
• In 2016, social worker new referrals per month were averaging 19.
• In 2018, the average dropped to 16.
• From January through May of 2019, the average was 14, still above the recommended guideline of 12
“The last place that you would save a buck is if there was an abused and neglected kid in agony, daily agony, and you look at them in the eye and say, ‘Sorry, we’re going to balance our budget on the basis of your body,’” Howard said.
“Some of these positions they haven’t filled in over a year. What are you doing with those monies?” said Ted Somera.
Somera is the executive director of United Public Employees, the union representing those jobs. He said the county should be looking for the savings elsewhere.
“These board of supervisors, at the end of the day, are the ones that hold the strings to the purse. They have to make the conscionable decision to do the right thing,” he explained.
The county released the following statement to FOX40:
The Department of Child, Family and Adult Services (DCFAS) has been diligently working on the proposed FY 2019-20 budget and the primary focus has been on limiting impact to services for children, families and vulnerable adults served by CPS and Senior and Adult Services (SAS). The proposed budget eliminates several contracts, reduces others and eliminates 55 vacant (unfilled) FTE positions. 27 of those vacancies are social worker positions – 5 in SAS and 22 in CPS.
Over the past several years, CPS has made significant progress in reducing the number of referrals assigned to social workers in Emergency Response and in reducing social worker caseloads in permanency services. Additionally, since October of 2014, CPS has reduced the number of monthly entries into foster care by 30% and reduced the number of children in foster care by 27%.
From a workforce perspective, social worker staffing levels have increased in both CPS and SAS since 2013: for CPS, from approximately 321 in 2013 to 409 current positions and for SAS, from 127 to 164.8.
With the proposed reductions, DCFAS will have 1142 Full-Time positions: 55 in Administration, 770.2 (384.1 SWs) in CPS and 316.8 (160.8) in SAS.
DCFAS Director Michelle Callejas stated the department has a strong workforce, which is dedicated and committed to addressing the safety and well-being of children, families and vulnerable adults. Moving forward, DCFAS leadership will work with staff to conduct a department-wide assessment to identify additional efficiencies that can be achieved, gaps/needs and determine the reallocation of any existing resources to most effectively serve our community. Our focus will be on supporting our workforce, maintaining the positive outcomes achieved in CPS and ensuring strong services and supports for the growing senior population served by SAS.
“If you want to know what the result of this cut of $6 million is going to be, imagine a bunch of baby-sized corpses here in Sacramento County because that’s what you’ll get. That’s what you’ll get,” Howard told FOX40.
According to the Sacramento County, the current proposal will not increase the workload and is the least impactful to current services and all other data shows they are trending well in the right direction.
That budget is tentative for now but the final budget will come out in September.