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October 25, 2014

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Family Services gets county’s OK to add 49 employees

Clark County’s Department of Family Services will be adding 49 new employees to help reduce the foster care and adoption caseload for its current workers after it received approval for the $4.2 million expenditure from the Board of Commissioners at their Tuesday meeting.

The issue: The Department of Family Services asked Clark County commissioners to authorize creation of 49 new positions

The vote: Approved 7-0

What it means:

The Department of Family Services will have additional staffers to help deal with the overload of cases it manages.

Director Lisa Ruiz-Lee told commissioners the department currently had a ratio of one employee for every 35 children it serves.

The new positions, which would be paid for with increased federal revenues, will bolster the organization’s operations, including Child Protective Services investigations, its hotline, foster care licensing and its emergency response team. Four new District Attorney’s Office employees who handle Department of Family Services cases also would be hired.

“These positions will be used within department to offset case and to create or re-create additional capacity within department,” said Ruiz-Lee, who noted the department had lost more than 100 positions through attrition in the past several years of budget cuts.

The positions are fully funded for four years and the department will seek out further funding through increased revenues to keep the positions filled on an ongoing basis, she said.

Commissioners were largely supportive of the hiring, although some expressed concerns the positions were only funded for four years.

“I think it’s a good thing to be able to reduce those caseloads, to be able to have that staff person effectively work with that family and dissect what’s going on with that child and that family,” Commissioner Lawrence Weekly said. “I don’t know anybody here who would not want to see a family reunify with their child. … But it’s also our responsibility to make sure we don’t put those children in harm’s way.”

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