Providence, RI – In an effort to provide Rhode Island’s most vulnerable children with appropriate oversight while in the care of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), House Republicans submitted amendments to the proposed FY21 budget to address cuts in frontline staffing at DCYF by the Governor.
“In a time of great stress for Rhode Island’s children living in state care, not only did the Governor remove the urgently needed and promised 21 frontline workers from her budget, she also eliminated 4 other positions as DCYF, said Minority Whip Michael C. Chippendale, the sponsor of the amendment. “That is unconscionable and indefensible. We have children dying. We have reports of a sickening uptick in child abuse during COVID. Of all the necessary and prudent cuts that need to happen in this budget – such as the 117 communications positions across state government –the Governor chooses to eliminate positions at DCYF? It has been over a year and DCYF is still without a permanent Director. It has been almost two years since it was revealed that our most vulnerable children were not receiving proper investigations and social worker interactions. We cannot pass this budget in good conscience without fully funding these positions.”
The House Republican Caucus submitted a budget amendment totaling $2.6 million to add 25 full time equivalent (FTE) employees to the DCYF personnel appropriation to address the shortage of workers licensing and evaluating children in foster care, those being supported in adoption proceedings, and children eligible for kinship placements. These monies would be moved from a percentage of appropriations to non-contractual employee raises across state government. The average proposed raise for state workers in the FY21 budget is approximately $3,200.
“Some of the most vulnerable children in our society are being left behind,” said House Minority Leader Blake Filippi. “We have taken on the role of keeping them safe and in many respects, have failed in this duty. If government can’t fix DCYF, it has little business doing much else.”
"What's more, the national average for cases is 14 per case worker. Federally, 'cases' are measured as one child in the care of the agency. Rhode Island actually measures ‘a case’ as one 'family,' which has resulted in 30 – 38 children assigned to each caseworker, which is very concerning. We need to address this in DCYF immediately," said Representative Sherry Roberts.
An exhaustive pre-accreditation study of DCYF was released in October 2020. That report indicated that DCYF would need to hire an additional 90 frontline workers to meet the basic litmus test for accreditation. The restoration of 25 FTE’s, as proposed by House Republicans is woefully under this standard and will need to be addressed in the FY22 budget.
The Rhode Island House of Representatives Minority Caucus (Republican) is comprised of the following elected members representing constituents who live in the following districts throughout the Ocean State: Minority Leader, Blake Filippi, District 36 (Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly, New Shoreham); Minority Whip, Michael Chippendale, District 40 (Foster, Glocester, Coventry); Representative John Lyle, Jr., District 46 (Lincoln, Pawtucket); Representative George Nardone, District 28 (Coventry); Representative Brian Newberry, District 48 (North Smithfield, Burrillville); Representative David Place, District 47 (Burrillville, Glocester); Senior Deputy Minority Leader Justin Price, District 39 (Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond); Deputy Minority Leader Robert Quattrocchi, District 41 (Scituate, Cranston); Deputy Whip Sherry Roberts, District 29 (Coventry, West Greenwich).
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