ALBANY, NY (09/16/2016)(readMedia)-- CSEA has launched a campaign supporting legislation to protect at-risk children from abuse and neglect by addressing overwhelming Child Protective Service (CPS) worker caseloads.

The Senate and Assembly passed the legislation (S. 2691/A. 10506) on uniform workload standards for child protective workers, capping caseloads at 15 per month. Current worker caseloads can climb as high as 70 per month in many places. Continuing economic challenges for working New Yorkers and an unprecedented heroin epidemic are contributing to the strain. Extreme turnover, rising caseloads and increased reporting mandates have made a challenging job almost impossible.

"At-risk children deserve a chance at a better life," said CSEA President Danny Donohue. The legislation is based on a 2006 report by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services that found smaller caseloads have a direct benefit for children under supervision.

In the Capital Region. CSEA regional President Ron Briggs recently rallied more than 375 union activists from state, local government and private sector in support of the legislation.

Briggs, himself, a former CPS staffer in Fulton County, described what's at stake and asked for members' support in lobbying Governor Cuomo to sign the legislation.

"Every night, child protective workers go to sleep worrying about the children they saw that day. They wish they could do more. This legislation will afford CPS workers the opportunity to do more to help the most vulnerable children in our communities," said Briggs.

CSEA welcomed the support of area Assembly Co-sponsors, Patricia Fahy, Carrie Woerner and John McDonald.

"Keeping every child in our communities safe is critically important, and Child Protective Services case workers play an integral role in doing so," said Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner. "Establishing reasonable workload standards for child protective services workers will ensure that the highest-quality care and attention can be provided to our most vulnerable children. I look forward to seeing this bill become law once signed by the Governor."

"It is apparent now, more than ever, that the children are more often than not caught in the middle when it comes to families in crisis. CPS workers are those that work through the process to try to keep families together, but more importantly, protect the children. The constant increase in caseloads without the support to address these cases to the fullest is a concern and one that I am supportive of with a proper remedy," said Assemblyman John T. McDonald.

"Child Protective Services workers are often too stretched to ensure a child's safety and well-being when caseload numbers are excessive. Heavy caseloads also impede the ability of workers to address the critical needs of the family and remedy difficult circumstances. Any legislative mandate to reduce caseloads must be adequately funded in order to be truly effective. These are some of our most vulnerable children and need our help to provide basic protection," added Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy.

CSEA's campaign includes social media outreach and a public education component including television ads and print editorials. CSEA is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the legislation and set the standard because it's the right thing to do for children and communities.