FULTON, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Oswego County Child Protection Advisory Committee met on Wednesday to discuss how they could better keep caseworkers at the Oswego County Department of Social Services.

Currently, there are 18 caseworker openings. Deputy Commissioner for Oswego County Department of Social Services Marti Babcock said she does a lot of exit interviews. “A lot of the time people are leaving the job because it’s a lot, you know, and no matter how you cut it, it’s a very, very difficult job,” said Babcock. “During COVID we never stopped going in to homes, we still have a job to do, we have to get in there we have to assess safety, we have to talk to all the children.”

Babcock also said these workers don’t know what kinds of situations they’re getting themselves into. She said they are exposed to drugs, scabies, and bed bugs and sometimes violence, which can be mentally taxing. “We have on staff now a part time therapist, who works with our caseworkers to help them process any kind of trauma that they deal with on the job.”

Training the caseworkers has also come up a number of times at the meetings, so DSS is looking at news way to get more hands on. “We’re looking to recommend a new model so that we actually have experienced caseworkers who are going out in the field with new caseworkers and their only role then is to mentor them, to walk them through the documents and the paperwork that needs to be done,” said Oswego County DSS commissioner, Stacy Alvord.

Pay, workload, and safety were other issues brought up at the meeting.