May 2, 2019
Contact Name: Sara Persechino
Phone: (603) 271-3479
CONCORD—Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 272-87 in support of SB 6-FN-A-L, relative to child protection staffing and making an appropriation therefor. SB 6 passed the Senate unanimously in February and would address the current staffing shortage at DCYF to bring caseload levels in line with the national standard by hiring an additional 57 caseworkers and 20 supervisory staff over the next two years.
Prime sponsor Senator Jon Morgan (D-Brentwood) released the following statement after the vote:
“As a father of three young children, I know there’s no responsibility greater for lawmakers than to protect the safety and wellbeing of New Hampshire’s most vulnerable citizens—our children. Unfortunately, right now New Hampshire is failing our kids. DCYF is facing a funding shortfall and caseworker staffing shortage so severe it has left them struggling to fulfill their critical role, managing caseloads nearly four times the national recommended average. We can and must do better.
Today’s House vote is a critical step forward to address the child protection crisis in our state and an important signal to Granite State families and the dedicated, compassionate staff at DCYF that New Hampshire lawmakers take child welfare seriously and help is on the way. SB 6 is the biggest initiative to date to address the DCYF caseworker shortage and reduce caseloads, but our work does not end here. As the Senate builds our budget, we will work to ensure we have sufficient staff to help support these caseworkers, including nurses and secretaries.”
The 77 positions funded in SB 6 were listed as priority needs by the Department of Health and Human Services during the agency budget requests, which can be found on page 3297/3307 for caseworkers and page 3299/3308 for supervisors.
In January, Joseph Ribsam, DCYF Director, testified in support of SB 6. Additionally in January, Maura O’Neil, Director of the NH Office of the Child Advocate, testified in support of SB 6 and reiterated her support on NHPR’s The Exchange.
In April, the NH DCYF Advisory Board voted unanimously to support SB 6.