Open positions at St. Lawrence County Social Services due to internal promotions, transfers
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
CANTON — St. Lawrence County Social Services currently has six open positions but not necessarily due to attrition as many residents might believe.
“I would like to say that 5 of the 6 vacancies that we have, we did not lose those individuals. They transferred or took promotions and stayed within the department,” Joe Seeber, director of social services said.Seeber brought up the vacancies at the St. Lawrence County Legislature’s Services Committee meeting on June 20, but did not comment as to whether the positions filled by transfers were vacated.
“Our first vacancy is the result of an individual taking a promotion from social welfare examiner to a senior social welfare examiner in our department,” Seeber said.
The position is responsible for a number of benefits clients may require, including SNAP and other forms of temporary assistance.
Seeber said if the position is not filled, client interviews would not be completed in a timely manner, applications would be delayed and the accuracy of reporting could lead to people being considered ineligible or missing out on benefits by not renewing applications.
“This position handles 326 SNAP cases, serving 617 individuals,” Seeber told the board.
The second vacancy, another social welfare examiner role serving Medicaid clients, opened after an employee transferred to the department’s investigative unit, Seeber said.
Much like the first vacancy, Seeber said the position not being filled could lead to processing delays, inaccuracy in reporting and lost benefits for a multitude of clients.
In total, the position is responsible for payments ranging from $11,000 to $26,000 per month, Seeber said.
Another issue with the caseload numbers stems from New York State changing a number of criteria for applicants, including a rise of 300% in state income standards used to determine eligibility and the removal of a 17.5 hour work week requirement.
“The increase will certainly create a higher caseload for this position,” he said.
The third vacancy, much like the second, is a social welfare examiner position vacated when the employee took a promotion to work in support of the investigating unit, Seeber said.
“In January, 2020 this position oversaw 480 cases. Currently, 1,105 cases would be handled by this position,” Seeber said.
Seeber also commented on the potential for clients to receive financial penalties for delayed paperwork and re-certifications if the position is not filled.
Once again, the fourth vacancy is an additional social welfare examiner for the Medicaid Unit, which is being filled by an internal employee Seeber said.
Much like the other positions, Seeber said the position not being filled could lead to processing delays, inaccuracy in reporting and lost benefits for a multitude of clients.
The position was previously responsible for 480 clients, which has ballooned to 740 patients, he said.
The fifth vacancy is an employment and training counselor, which was vacated by another employee taking a promotion to the senior employment and training counselor position.
The position is responsible for 120 clients who require various assistance with substance abuse treatment, education, job searches and similar requirements, Seebe rsaid.
When asked about how successful the department was in job placement, Seeber said the department is successful but he did not have specific examples and statistics at the meeting.
The sixth and final position is a case worker for Child Protective Services, which became vacant when the employee resigned and took a new job within the county in the Public Health Department.
“This position will investigate child about allegations and mistreatment in placements. If the position is not filled, we may compromise child safety and may lose ability to maintain high standards set by the state and St. Lawrence County,” Seeber said.
Seeeber said the case worker would be responsible for 15 investigations per month but currently oversees 24 per month, as of April.
Without hiring for the position, Seeber said caseloads will pile up and case workers will fall further behind, potentially up to 5 months behind.
“Without adequate staff to fill this requirement, staff would be required to work overtime for cases that require immediate contact for health and safety concerns,” Seeber said.
Seeber also said his department “finds children in dire positions daily.”