2018-06-07 / Front Page

County Honors Child Welfare Professionals

By Cassidy Pittman
STAFF WRITER


Fulton County Services for Children celebrates Child Welfare Professionals Week this week with county commissioners Stuart Ulsh and Pete Lynch. Top row: Stuart Ulsh and Pete Lynch; middle row: Stephanie Branch, caseworker; Jessica Carlin, fiscal assistant; Dustiny Cunningham, LSI paralegal; Nancy Shafer, Clerk Typist 1; bottom row: Crystal Long, intake supervisor; Jordan O’Donnel, caseworker; Nicole Grimmett, caseworker supervisor; Christine Mc- Quade, director. Fulton County Services for Children celebrates Child Welfare Professionals Week this week with county commissioners Stuart Ulsh and Pete Lynch. Top row: Stuart Ulsh and Pete Lynch; middle row: Stephanie Branch, caseworker; Jessica Carlin, fiscal assistant; Dustiny Cunningham, LSI paralegal; Nancy Shafer, Clerk Typist 1; bottom row: Crystal Long, intake supervisor; Jordan O’Donnel, caseworker; Nicole Grimmett, caseworker supervisor; Christine Mc- Quade, director. Earlier this year Gov. Tom Wolf issued a proclamation making June 4-8 Child Welfare Professionals Appreciation Week. The proclamation was made to recognize the heroic dedication of the children and youth agencies that provide services to their counties.

It is work that is mentally and physically tolling, and because of that, the industry has a rather large turnover rate, according to Fulton County’s Services for Children Director Christine Mc- Quade. To be successful, caseworkers must develop a keen skill for working with families that are often in a state of crisis, or struggling with drug/alcohol addictions, mental health issues, and a multitude of other issues.

“It’s a tough job,” she explained, in an interview. “And the turnover rate is high because these child welfare professionals are getting underpaid and receive little appreciation for the incredible work they do. Every case requires a ton of paperwork and patience.”

Fulton County, along with the entire state, is in a hiring crisis due to the low retention rate of caseworkers. According to Director McQuade, Services for Children loses approximately two out of six caseworkers due to low pay, unrealistic expectations, and again, the overwhelming amount of paperwork.

“Our caseworkers perform a demanding job with little appreciation of the families, community, and other professionals. They are required to receive and investigate all reports of child abuse and neglect, as well as make decisions regarding a child’s safety. There’s no clocking out of this job. Our caseworkers receive and investigate reports of horrible injuries to children, whether it be two o’clock in the morning or Christmas Eve.

McQuade expressed her gratitude on behalf of her office for all the help Fulton County Family Partnership has given since the partnership and her agency created a joint mission to provide services to the children and families of Fulton County.

According the 2017 Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Annual Report, there were 60 cases of child abuse reported in Fulton County last year. Seventyfive percent of the reports that were substantiated were of female children, and 25 percent were of male children. Roughly 88.9 percent of these cases were sexual abuse, and 11.1 percent had a reasonable likelihood of bodily injury.

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