New Child Protection Staff to be Aides to Caseworkers

The agency has 12 child protection specialist openings listed on the state jobs website

By AMY BETH HANSON, Associated Press

HELENA — Montana won’t be increasing the number of caseworkers under the governor’s plan to improve the effectiveness and oversight of the state Division of Child and Family Services, but it will hire 33 assistants to help existing caseworkers.

Gov. Steve Bullock’s announcement Monday said the agency would hire “33 additional front-line staff” but was not more specific.

State officials didn’t clarify the issue until Wednesday when a reporter asked about the listings for 26 “social service technicians” found on the state jobs website.

“To clarify — these are front-line positions but not child protection specialist positions,” DCFS administrator Sarah Corbally said in an email released through the governor’s office. Case aides will be assigned to every child protection specialist supervisor to assist caseworkers, she said.

“These positions spend most of their time in the field transporting children, supervising visits between parents and children, and providing support services to children and families,” Corbally said in a statement.

“We chose not to add more child protection specialist positions due to the number of vacancies,” she continued. “It is hoped that by providing increased support to the child protection specialists, it will also improve the recruitment and retention of those positions.”

The agency has 12 child protection specialist openings listed on the state jobs website, along with a supervisor position in Lewistown.

Child protection specialists assess reports of child abuse, determine the appropriate level of intervention and remove children from homes, if necessary. They work with families to establish a plan for permanent placement of the child and may prepare affidavits to be introduced in court cases. The job demands an ability to make critical decisions in high-stress situations, engage children and families under difficult circumstances and remain calm when confronted while working cooperatively with people who may not share the same point of view, according to the job description.

The qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in social work, human services, psychology or a related degree along with two years of social services work experience. The job pays between $34,694 and $43,368 annually.

The technician’s job requirements include a high school diploma and two years of social services work experience along with basic knowledge of child development and parenting skills. Duties may range from scheduling appointments and updating information in the computer to helping a social worker remove children from their home and testifying in court, the job description said. The position pays $11.14 to $13.92 an hour.

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