Los Angeles Social Workers Plan Walkout

Randy Slavich and co-workers at DCFS' Pasadena office picket on Sept. 12th. On Oct. 1, the union has called a walkout.
Randy Slavich and co-workers at DCFS’ Pasadena office picket on Sept. 12th. On Oct. 1, the union has called an action in front of the Hall of Administration.

Los Angeles County social workers, frustrated over pay and increasing caseloads, are planning to protest in front the County Board of Supervisors offices on October 1.

While The Chronicle was unable to reach the union organizing the walkout before publishing this story, sources in the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) were able to provide some details.

On Friday night, DCFS Director Philip Browning was still unsure about what kind of protest social workers would mount, but said that he had seen fliers calling for an “action day.”

“Our concern would be an impact on children and families,” Browning said. “We have a plan for managers to take responsibility,” if case carrying workers walk. “I hope that doesn’t occur.”

Randy Slavich, a 33-year-old caseworker in DCFS’ Pasadena office, said that the Services Employees International Union local 721 (SEIU) was organizing the walkout to protest Los Angeles County’s offer of a modest pay increase without additional medical contributions, which, he said, would cost workers as much as $100 a month in additional fees. But, Slavich, who said his caseload is at 43, would rather see more social workers hired than a pay-raise for himself.

The anxiety he feels about not being able to keep up with the pressure of his heavy caseload reached a high point earlier this month. “I had a panic attack and threw up,” he said. “When I told my supervisor, she said that sucks, but you are about to go up into the fifties.”

“You have an organization designed to meet psycho-social needs of children, but that treats its workers like robots,” Slavitch added.

Browning acknowledged the added pressures of increasing caseloads as allegations of child abuse have recently spiked, but pointed to DCFS’ remarkably low annual attrition rate of two percent.

“If people were so unhappy and so disappointed, people would be leaving by droves,” he said. “But the numbers aren’t bearing that out.”

Browning also pointed out that that the department recently hired 100 workers and will have another 150 working by January or February. “We hope this will provide some relief,” he said. “This is a tough job. I wouldn’t debate anyone and say this easy.”

For Slavitch that is not enough. “They hired 250 but we need 2,000,” he said.

Slavitch said that the union has said it will call a strike one week after October 1st if the workers’ demands are not met.

Daniel Heimpel is the founder of Fostering Media Connections and the publisher of The Chronicle of Social Change. 

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Daniel Heimpel, Publisher, The Chronicle of Social Change
About Daniel Heimpel, Publisher, The Chronicle of Social Change 181 Articles
Daniel is the founder of Fostering Media Connections and the publisher of The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at dheimpel@fosteringmediaconnections.org.

29 Comments

  1. As a child that is in the DCFS, I disapprove and approve of their actions. However, who are the kids going to contact when the social workers are not getting to them? The kids depend on their social workers, and with the social workers not doing their job is bringing them down. The social workers always tells their kids “If you need anything, call me”. For myself i depend on them and so for the other student/kids i have asked. We need our social workers back!…..please 🙂

  2. to those of you that want to talk negative about the DCFS, i can’t help but wonder how many of you are parents of children that have been put in the system, for one reason or another. First of all every woman that has a baby, is not going to be a mama, and every man that plants the seed is not going to be a father, so who ends up suffering, that poor baby that’s born with alcohol fetal syndrone, or have withdrawals from drug, when indeed they didn’t have any say so about the matter, i just need you negative people to justify this for me. Some of these children have been in the system since they were born, can somebody tell me whose fault is that. I challenge every parent with a child or children in the system, regardless of how long, step back look in a mirrow, and tell yourself you like what you see. we need DCFS every where, because without them, more children are going to be lost.

    • I was in the system for nine years until I aged out. Saw my worker twice in 8 years, my brother and I were placed together seven different homes when I said we were beat daily I was sent to a girls home and taken away from my brother. The la county system sucks!! It is wrong!! My parents were on drugs but my grandparents were not!!!! Bigger picture needs to noted , and I hope whom ever my workers were get no pay at all!

  3. It’s very easy to judge and act like we social workers are eating tax payers dollars when people don’t do this job. Come and do this job for one day and then you can talk! If it wasn’t for social workers not hundreds but millions of children would be dying. Media only portrays the negative stories of DCFS it never reports on all the children that are saved by social workers from parents who shouldn’t be raising children in the first place. These social workers put their own lives at risk everyday and are exposed to the emotional, physical, sexual and mental abuse that these children go through. We don’t have any weapons to protect ourselves with like police officers do, which we’ve been told by police officers that they can’t even handle our jobs for one day. Our weapon is our own body and our words! Who will put themselves at risk like that but social workers? And we don’t do this job for the money because we don’t get paid nearly a quarter of what we should get paid for the stress, abuse and the amount of work we do! So once again come on our side of the fence and do this job for one day and then you will stop all your negative comments and judgment and will actually respect us for what we do!

    • If CPS would do their job right and quit taking children from good homes and take where they are needed to be taken, there wouldnt be so many in the system.
      CPS does not do what they were intended to do, instead that just want that bonus money for putting them in bad foster homes and up for adopation when they had perfectly good home.
      CPS does not try to reunit the family in any way.
      CPS is the child abuser!!!!!!
      CPS would not have to lie and make up allegations if the child was really in danger. STOP LYING CPS!!!!!!!!!! LEAVE OUR CHILDREN ALONE!!!!!!!

    • It’s no use trying to justify this work…we could be here all day…the truth is people will always blame social workers and not the parents…the success stories will always go unnoticed….and that’s to bad as there are “some” parents who don’t blame others….they do really care about their children and they manage to collaborate with their social worker to pull their lives together and reunify with their children.

      Wish we could hear more about reunification..however our society thrives on bad news..!

      Social workers don’t need to make up allegations…it’s usually picture of the spoiled food in the refrigerators, the feces scattered in the home from the pets, the bruises on the children, the hospital records, and/or the Methamphetamine (along with those trusty little scales) to measure the drugs that can be used as evidence. You can’t make this stuff up…remember truth is stranger than fiction.

  4. The organization is mess and promotes many workers to supervisor positions that DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. The orgainzation abuses many of their workers…not much child safety going on!

  5. My husband is a part of this union, he doesn’t work at DCFS. Does he not deserve a raise? It should be merit based. Back to the days of employees getting what they earn, not collective raises.

  6. DCFS removes minors from their homes simply because they refuse to follow their parents rules. This is called a “voluntary placement”. Maybe they should get rid of this type of placement to reduce their case load and make room for legitimate abuse cases. Countless numbers of foster homes, and group homes house minors that have molested or raped other minors, committed violent crimes, robberies, etc. These minors belong in Juvenile Hall!

  7. If DCFS would stop taking “voluntary placements” of children who simply can’t stay in homes because they refuse to follow their parents rules then maybe their would be less children for workers to deal with; and they could focus their attentions to ACTUAL cases of abuse… which is what DCFS was DESIGNED to do. not babysit brats, and criminals. I can’t begin to tell you how many minors that have committed crimes are living in foster and group homes on the taxpayers dime! Child molesters, violent gang members, drug addicts, etc. are living in foster homes and not in juvenile halls. Those beds can be used for children that have suffered from abuse and neglect. If taxpayers knew the truth DCFS would be dismantled!

  8. I am still a foster youth and I understand that it is indeed difficult and hectic. What really ticks me off is I’m sitting here waiting to get things done and there aren’t any workers, if I’m not bein helped, think of all the other children or young adults that are in a terrible situation right now and have no one to turn to? A hotline can only do so much, sorry but this so called strike is a waste of time!

  9. As a former foster child I say LET THEM WALK OFF THE JOB AND OVER A CLIFF! LEAVING CHILDREN WITH CRIMINALS PEDOPHILES AND MENTALLY ILL IS WHAT A LOS ANGELES COUNTY SOCIAL WORKER DOES WITH CHILDREN- THEIR INTENT IS IF A CHILD ISN’T REALLY ABUSE DCFS WILL SEE TO IT THEY ARE!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Well in response to the posting by B.M.I’m sue it takes a lot to be on those front lines but the attitude you carry is a perfect example of why CPS is a mess. you’ve saved how many children? And how do you know you saved them? your wish is that parents would act as parents. Basically your saying parenting according to your standards. Which is exactly the problem. You act as if your a savior of sorts and I have no doubt your opinion is bias before you ever get the case.

  11. I have worked for CPS for many years. I now work up front investigating the allegations. I do admit at times what is investigated is not a CPS issue but I also know that not a day goes by that I dont do my best to ensure children are safe. Children should be with family if possible, I completely agree. I do know though that unless you work a few months in this field you really have no business judging the workers that do. We put our safety on the line every day for people we do not even know. Ever think about the abuse we take or the mental anquish we go thru. When a child is removed it is not only up to the worker at the door. You know what would be nice? If parents would start being parents. Honesty would be nice as well. I know that I can say that I personally have saved hundreds of children, Can you?? Not many can handle seing what we see on a daily basis….

  12. WHERE IN THE HELL WERE YOU GUYS AT WHEN I WAS GETTING ABUSED,

    I WAS PRAYING FOR MY DEATH, WHERE I LOST MY FAITH IN RELIGION, DEATH WOULD HAVE BEEN EASIER THAN WHAT I WENT
    THRU.
    CHANGE THE GUARD. AND PROSECUTE THE LAME ASS THAT ARE THEIR ONLY TO COLLECT A CHECK,
    RD

  13. What a stupid picture accompanying the article. The same guy who had a panic attack over his case load and threw up is shaking a fist at the camera. Real tough guy.

  14. What I want to know is when are social workers gonna take responsibility for their share of the problem. Should taxpayers give ANY LA County DCFS employee a raise when 570 children died under the eye of the agency in only 18 months. In the private sector, these people would have been long gone and they know it. SEIU has to boycotted for their share. #institutionalabuse! appalling!!

  15. The real problem is, social workers are removing children that do not need to be removed. Unless there is true child abuse, with supporting evidence, which can stand up in a court of law, not kangaroo family court, then it has been proven that children are better off in their homes, rather than be removed and placed in foster homes. Guardianships and kinship care is being ignored in favor of “foster homes”. If social workers want a smaller case load, then its up to them to do it….duh!

    • Smaller case loads are the responsibility of the parents who are neglecting or abusing their children. If everyone took one parenthood as the importance responsibility that it is, there would not be a need for placement or CPS. Maybe we should consider the education of parents rather than attacking people just doing their jobs.

    • Yes that’s the real problem… children are being removed for no reason…it’s not the drugs, the domestic violence, those deplorable homes filled with feces or the broken bones…have you ever ran a criminal background check on some of the relatives for these minors? Well we have and sometimes it’s just as bad as the parents…the apple doesn’t fall to far from the tree…duh!

  16. ALS, I DO have my facts straight, having been up front and close the agency for years. There would be less child death and injury overall if CPS did not exist. If there is a concern for child abuse and neglect, which is a crime, call the POLICE, not social services and let the remaining supervisors handle placement.

    • There is SO much more to placing a child than mere location. How would there be less death and injury? I don’t know many caseworkers that randomly go around and harm kids, but I do know parents that do. I am curious what role you played “up front and close.” The view looks very different depending on where you are standing, especially for a child being abused.

  17. Maybe they should elicit foster parents in the area so they can air out all of their concerns together and get everyone’s attention. Caregivers have concerns that social workers have such heavy caseloads they are not always available when foster parents need help with the children. Frustration sets in, and seven day notices of removals start flying in unaddressed by overworked social workers.

    The huge shortage of foster homes in CA, speaks volumes, and until everyone is brought to the table to have a honest dialogue and discuss and what is really going on with out-of-home placed children, the current situations will persist. Next foster parents will be staging some type of protest on their own, to bring attention to their plight as foster parents.

  18. I hope they walk out. It’ll be a relief for some families that they won’t be bothered by CPS for a day or two or hopefully longer. It would be so nice if news reporters would actually study up on the facts surrounding child abuse and report that to the public.

    • Please get your facts straight as well. Some children would be in a bad place without that person on their doorstep. Do the job for a few days and then we’ll talk.

  19. It appears that there is something wrong with the way this system is not working. Perhaps the supervision needs to get out of their chairs and look at their employees accomplishments and get rid of dead wood then we will have room for workers.

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