Buncombe County Invests in Important Family Safety Positions: Child Protective Services Investigations Recruitment and Retention
On Tuesday, August 15, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved investing in solutions aimed at addressing the recruitment and retention challenges facing the Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) Child Protective Services (CPS) investigations team. The BCHHS CPS investigations team began experiencing significant recruitment and retention challenges starting in the fall of 2022 due to complex, changing workforce issues. While the CPS investigations team is not alone in its struggle to recruit and retain qualified and trained social work staff, its situation has been extreme in nature, reaching a crisis point in May 2023 when caseloads in CPS investigations were 2.7 times above the state standard. At this level, the agency could not sustain operations required to carry out important public safety work with children and families.
With all hands on deck, the Strategy and Innovation Department worked with BCHHS leadership to explore ways to stabilize and support CPS investigations. In line with their findings, the following actions have been approved for implementation:
- Allowance for Child Protective Services – investigations staff (supervisors & line staff) of $200 per pay period
- A qualified pay period is one in which the individual is employed within investigations after pre-service and eight weeks of on-boarding is completed
- The allowance sunsets by the start of fiscal year 2025 or when 76% of staff positions (22 out of 29) are filled and have completed pre-service training and eight weeks of on-boarding
In addition to the above recommendations, strategies related to recruitment/retention across the Social Work Division include:
- Advocating for changes to the job qualifications for all SWIII and SWIII-Trainee positions, which remove barriers to those interested in this opportunity to grow with the agency and in the social work field
- Partnering to create a recruitment and retention campaign with social media and radio spots
- Working with Human Resources to streamline the interviewing and hiring process
Buncombe County Government employees can also support this effort to help fill these hard-to-fill, public safety positions with the encouragement of a recruitment incentive for current employees. This incentive offers $250 for the first week of retention to employees who successfully recruit staff in these areas. Additionally, the employee may receive $250 after 6 months of retention and then $250 after the first year of retention. This incentive applies only to staff who successfully recruit a new employee in CPS investigations, 911/Public Safety Communications, or the Detention Center.