If there is one thread common to employment lawsuits, it is poor or no training for managers. Training helps instill values. It builds a culture of excellence. It is that culture of excellence which is missing from Child Protective Services. See San Antonio Express News report. The report discusses the missed opportunities by social workers to save a child’s life. But, the story also asks how many workers would have performed better if they were not working in such a toxic work environment? The on-call worker who explodes when called to a new case while she is by the pool with her kids. If she worked in a better place, would she have called her supervisor a "bitch"?
The new Director, John Specia, essentially admitted more money was not the only answer when he talked to the state Legislature. Regarding the situations where children under CPS watch had died, he said the correlation was not always higher caseloads. The caseworkers who failed to do home studies or to check on a family did not have the highest caseloads. The sad truth is that many caseloads are higher for some workers, while lower for other caseworkers. The difference is apparently due to some caseworkers getting along better with their supervisors, while other supervisors have loaded caseworker with too many cases. The work place suffers from too much distrust and resentment.
I have been involved with CPS in one lawsuit and have met with several caseworkers about possible lawsuits. This Express News report very much jibes with my experience. One of my clients simply asked a question about an overlooked report and was then "frozen" out of decisions and ultimately forced to quit. No place of employment is perfect. But, I was struck at the venal nature and petty bickering between upper level managers at CPS. Another caseworker needed time off for foot surgery and was repeatedly put off when she asked for time off. Her supervisor even said at one point that she could not have time off for required surgery until she reduced her numbers.
Simple training on the Americans with Disabilities Act would have helped the latter supervisor. But, simple training on the cost of training new caseworkers and the importance of retention would help. As the Express News article points out, critical information is lost when key workers turn over so frequently.