DCF casework by the numbers: An inside look


Following reports of high caseloads, high turnover and little experience among Child Protective Investigators in Palm Beach County, The Post and WPTV decided to investigate.


Here’s what we did and how we did it.

THE POST’S INVESTIGATION: Florida’s first responders to child abuse overwhelmed, inexperienced

WPTV’s INVESTIGATION: DCF investigators: 'Children are at risk because we can't do our jobs'

DAILY CASELOADS IN THE COUNTY

What we did: 

In order to get a better grasp of daily caseloads for CPIs, we requested from DCF all daily rotation reports from 2016. Daily rotation reports list daily open case counts for each CPI in all of DCF’s units.

We received 243 PDF documents, and later 243 separate spreadsheets that contained information for each unit and for the number of workers in the unit for Palm Beach and Treasure Coast employees.

We combined the Excel documents into a single spreadsheet.

Because the names of individual workers were omitted, we could not break down the caseload numbers for each of the individual workers by name, but we did break it down by unit/ number of workers in each unit.

 

What we found:

CIRCUIT 15 - Palm Beach County 

Daily caseloads ranged from 1 to 38.

There were 21,500 rows. Each row represents a day worked by a CPI in Circuit 15.

We looked how often these daily caseloads occur (the number of days that CPIs had the particular caseload).

In 54.5% of the days, daily caseloads were on or below the Florida maximum recommended daily caseload of 15.

In 45.5% daily caseloads exceeded 15.

  

TURNOVER AND EXPERIENCE

 

What we did:

In order to get a better grasp of turnover and work experience we requested from DCF a list of employees in both Palm Beach County who at some time were employed with DCF during 2016. We also requested their job title, hire date, separation date.

For each worker we calculated their tenure (years at the department). 

We looked at the number of people who left at some point during the year. 

We looked at the tenure of the people who were still employed at the start of 2017.

 

What we found: 

Thirty-two people started as a CPI in Palm Beach County (Circuit 15) in 2016.

Seven, or 22% didn’t make it through the first year.

Among CPIs employed in January 2017, in Palm Beach County 55% had been on the job for less than 2 years.


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