Backlog of child abuse cases addressed during public meeting

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by Sandra Torres

MILWAUKEE -- The issue of backlog cases at the Milwaukee Bureau of Child Welfare was discussed during a public meeting on July 25.

The meeting lasted about three hours and it got heated at times, as everyone wanted answers to why there is a backlog in the first place.

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families reports the Milwaukee Bureau has a back log of about 2,900 hundred cases. Originally, a spokesperson told CBS 58's Sandra Torres it was 2,400, but then let us know it was an error.

During the meeting, officials explained the back log is of cases where social workers did their initial assessment, but haven't had the chance to close the cases yet.

 "It's a big number and we are trying to get it down... we believe that the people who are not safe have been dealt with," said Eulise Anderson, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.

Anderson adds, the fast turnover of employees is one contributing factor to the delays.

"This is a tough job... a job that people don't stay on. Nationally, it's about 18 months for people staying in these jobs," said Anderson.

But a bigger problem, is that the system is not flexible enough.

"Right now, we have a serious drug problem across the state, not just in Milwaukee, and we are trying to accommodate that," said Anderson.

Bureau officials reported during the meeting that they are using a team of back log reduction specialists to try to catch up. But to some, that's only a short term solution.

"Taking care of the back log is putting a band aid on this... the back log is that they have an issue with retention, losing good workers, people are burning out... so until you fix that, you'll still have back logs," said Michael Wallace, President of the Wisconsin Council on Social Education.

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