Thursday, July 06, 2006

Comments from Kansas......

Checking in from another state. Same situation here in Kansas. They're referring to it some "leadership" circles as a "high performance environment". The people purportedly running the show have no clue what it takes to process a case.We've been put in "IST's" or Integrated Service Teams where we are now co-located with the Child Support worker and a social worker. The social workers were recently "upgraded" some 3 pay levels and are making, easily, $5,000.00 more per year than those of us who process TANF, Child Care, Medical, etc. benefits and case manage. I have no clue why.

The great thing about the IST is the fact we get to see how little the social workers actually do, aside from plugging in headphones and using the CD-rom on their computers to listen to music: they're seldom on the phone; no longer are responsible for foster care case mgmt., and maybe have a handful of investigations. I grant you it may be different in larger offices; but then so is the cash and foodstamp environment in those larger offices: They're like war zones with "customers" who scream the loudest getting the most "services".

Rather than focusing on those TANF clients who want to get a job, this state spends most of it's time with those who do not and do whatever they can to avoid "mandatory" job search matters. Everyone is so afraid of being reported to the "customer service" unit (who don't do diddly from what can be seen from the battle ground) that the proverbial squeaky wheel gets all the attention while others simply wait.Top the above with the fact that one entire section of the state was caught manipulating application dates in the computer system to force timeliness on FS applications (when they were processed and were to be untimely, the application date was changed in the computer data base to make it appear as timely). 100% of the randomly pulled cases had had their app dates falsified.

And another:

It is not possible to work more than 40 hours per week in this state, Kansas, irrespective of how many applications or reviews one has. If you don't get it done in your 40 hour work week, you're in the cross hairs of those who make the big money and give themselves all pats on the back annual pay hikes. Kansas is in a "high performance" environment. People sink or swim and more and more are sinking. Case assignment is in constant flux as people quit or are released. There is no union to speak of in Kansas given this is a right to work state. Training? New staff have a "performance improvement" staff member "sit" with them for a bit of time, and then the case load is turned over to the new hire. I don't know about Texas, but in Kansas it takes upwards of two years to know what you're sort of doing. Kansas is essentially "generic" in that staff process TANF, FS, childcare, healthcare, work programs.

Staff do the intake and work the case from that point forward It is impossible to use annual leave because if one does, the toll of backed up work negates the vacation: It's there waiting for you when you get back...nobody is assigned diddly boo except the most "urgent" of matters (read that as a "consumer" who has screamed the most....). It's gotten so bad that staff actually have to lose vacation time at the close of the state's fiscal year given they've accumulated all the state will allow. One upper management practice has been to have case application dates changed in the computer data base to avoid untimely processing stats to be worse than they already are. The USDA regional office has been noticed about the practice and thus far they've essentially shrugged their shoulders and said "They've said they won't do that anymore...". The embraced practice and documentation of same has just today been forwarded to USDA FNS staff in Washington. Think they'll care anymore than Kansas' regional office?


Anonymous said...

Indiana Caseworker: Caseloads running around 400 in our office. Lots of pressure from management now. After working more than 25 years I have accumulated around 100 vacation days but as you said, if you use them you just get that much more behind. I will probably lose most of them when we privatize. Privatization was to start July 1 but has now been delayed a few months. Thanks for this website as I have been very interested in what is happening elsewhere. Accenture is one of two companies bidding for eligibility jobs. We are working under pressure of some court orders on timeliness of medicaid disability applications that is a tracking nightmare but it has speeded up processing. We are losing employees that aren't being replaced. With training it takes a good year to get someone fairly independent and up to a full caseload if they survive that long.No overtime allowed here and the bargaining agreement was thrown out with the change in governor last year so the union has no power. The caseworkers who have TANF and FS Impact(work program) have much lower caseloads and higher pay in our office. Child Protection has now been totally separated from eligibility.

Anonymous said...

I wish my caseload was 400. It's running close to 800 these days. To make matters worse every person I interview seems to want TANF, which I just can't do in 30 minutes. Too much complicated policy to explain in that short of an interview.

Anonymous said...

Here in Texas we don't even interview for TANF anymore. WE just send them a letter for what we need. How stupid is that?