Nearly twenty UE Local 170 members attended the first meeting of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources caseload standards workgroups in Flatwoods on October 16. UE Local 170 was instrumental in getting DHHR to comply with the caseload standards statute earlier this year.
At the meeting in Flatwoods, UE Local 170 DHHR members came together with nearly 100 other DHHR employees, who are members of the caseload standards workgroups. Douglas Robinson, Commissioner of the Bureau for Children and Families and Garrett Jacobs, Commissioner of the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement, addressed the DHHR employees, voicing their support for the success of the workgroups.
The DHHR employees also heard from John Thompson, UE International Representative, who thanked them for taking on this important work. Thompson also said that UE Local 170 was fully committed to supporting their work on developing reasonable caseload standards. Sam Hickman, Chief Executive Officer of the West Virginia chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, also addressed the employees. The NASW worked with UE Local 170 in getting the DHHR to implement the caseload standards statute.
The caseload standards statute had been on the books since 1997, but DHHR never complied with the statute to develop reasonable and achievable caseload standards for its program areas. However, due to the persistence of UE Local 170 members, and with the strong support of Delegate Bobbie Hatfield, Vice-Chair of the House Health and Human Resources Committee, and the NASW, DHHR agreed to finally comply with the caseload standards statute earlier this year.
As part of its agreement with UE Local 170, DHHR formed five workgroups made up of DHHR employees whose classifications have caseloads: Social Workers, Eligibility Workers, Case Aides, Child Support Specialists, and Child Support Technicians. UE Local 170 got to pick members to be part of the five workgroups. The NASW also got to pick members to be part of the Social Workers workgroup. DHHR employees nominated and elected members of the workgroups and DHHR appointed employees to the workgroups.
The workgroups will continue to meet in the coming months with the goal of developing caseload standard recommendations to present to the Secretary of DHHR and the West Virginia Legislature by June 30, 2013. In July 2013, DHHR will begin developing caseload standards for employees who work for the Bureau for Public Health and the Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities.
For updates on the progress of the caseload standards workgroups, check back frequently.