In a recent article in the Pottsville Republican and Herald, the Schuylkill County Board of Commissioners heard arguments to increase funding for the county Children and Youth Services department. Historically, C&Y is the least popular agency among county citizens. However, they provide a valuable service to Schuylkill children and their families. Recently, an influx of transports from New York, Philadelphia, and Reading have besieged the county and brought along with them their family problems. This has led to an increase in open cases and the need for more placements of abused and neglected children. C&Y director Gerald Campbell reported that 71 transient families were referred the agency during the last four months of 2007. Even more referrals are on the horizon. At the same time, C&Y has suffered high turnover with their already short staff, which has put a massive strain on the remaining caseworkers. At last count, the agency needed to fill six caseworker slots and two supervisor positions.
As most of my readers know, The Clarke Report is a staunch advocate of less government spending and instrusion into people’s lives. However, C&Y provides an invaluable service to families and the community at large. They protect abused and neglected children, provide treatment for children with behavioral issues, and assist parents in improving a nurturing environment for their families. Of the many uses for taxpayer dollars, allocation to C&Y is at the top of my list for most important expenditures.
C&Y needs more staff, more resources, and a better facility in which to work. Currently, they are housed at the county human services building on Centre Street in Pottsville. The area is just too darn small for the staff that they have now. If the agency is going to expand to meet the needs of the community, their work space must grow as well. Caseworkers can’t work efficiently when they are right on top of one another. Can you imagine drafting an effective family service plan when a co-worker less than two feet away is taking a call from an irate parent? Schuylkill C&Y caseworkers do it everyday and they shouldn’t have to. In a time when the county is planning to sink millions of taxpayer dollars into a “pre-release center” (AKA a new county prison) for the deadbeats and low-lives of the area, I don’t think its too much to ask to provide those sworn to protect our children and aid our families with a sufficient space in which to work. The Clarke Report challenges the Board of Commissioners to act swiftly. Let’s see where their priorities lie.