LOS ANGELES –Local child welfare workers took to the picket lines again on Friday to demand lower caseloads. A group of strikers met in front of the Lancaster office of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DFCS), and then headed to the DCFS headquarters in Los Angeles to join more than 1,800 children’s social workers for a huge rally.
The strikers are calling on county officials to reduce social worker-to-child ratios so that social workers can spend more time caring for each abused and neglected child. They’re demanding lower caseloads as part of their labor contract, and they’re prepared to strike for as long as it takes to force county officials to commit in writing to hiring 35 children’s social workers every month for 17 months. (Read our previous story here.)
On Friday, County Public Affairs Director David Sommers said county officials were continuing to “actively monitor ongoing strike activity”.
In a press statement, Sommers issued the following points on behalf of County’s Chief Executive Office:
*Rather than focusing on the past two days of demonstrations by SEIU, our primary focus is ensuring child safety is not compromised.
*Hundreds of experienced managers are serving the children of LA County right now by filling in on front line positions.
* Striking social workers talk about protecting children, yet they’ve made the decision to walk out on the very children they’re responsible to protect.
* These kids need their social workers during the holiday season more than any other time of the year, SEIU knows this, and yet they’ve walked away.
* Everyone loses in this strike – 55,000 SEIU members that are not getting raises that other County labor groups are currently receiving, the striking workers who will never be paid for the days they were on strike, and most importantly, those who depend on the services we provide, children in this case, who are getting unnecessarily wrapped up into a matter they ought not to be impacted by, ever.
* While these strike actions by SEIU continue, 100 new social workers are finishing up their intensive 52-week training academy and will receive a full caseload next month.
* We are also finalizing the hiring of an additional 150 new social workers who will begin the training academy in January and February.
* The best way to protect kids is to get back on the job, and immediately return to the negotiating table.
For more information on the reforms proposed by county’s social workers, visit their union’s website here.
Click here for a fact sheet, the group says will reveal the whole truth about social work in LA County.
Previous related story: County DCFS workers on strike