BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The brutal beating death of an innocent little boy is casting a harsh light on Erie County's Department of Child Protective Services.
Even after approving six new caseworkers last month, some lawmakers want even more crews in the field to protect local children from abuse and neglect.
State and county officials have been probing CPS since the murder of 5-year-old Eain Brooks.
"We need to look out for them. We need to make sure that their taken care of," said Legislator Joseph Lorigo. "People seem to think we need to lighten the load of the workers and pay more attention to the kids."
Legislature Chairman Betty Jean Grant said, "When you have caseworkers with more than 15 cases, I think the state law mandates 15 cases or less. We have caseworkers with 15, 19, 20 cases. That's way to many."
Even before Brook's death last month, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz had been calling for changes at CPS. Last year, the local agency received reports on 9,800 children. That means each social worker was responsible for almost 200 cases.
Lorigo says he's received called from former and current CPS workers who say the caseloads are too big.
"They all seem to believe that there's a problem in terms of how many people are working there. How many cases they have. And that the management oversight isn't where it needs to be," Lorigo said.
Last month, the county legislature unanimously voted to hire six more caseworkers at CPS as well as a manager. Three managers were also added to Social Services to help restructure the department.
Grant says the new hires for CPS and Social Services are part of the budget rolling out on October 15th. Any additional ones will have be to factored in next year. But going forward Grant says if there's a need they'll be sure to address it.
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