Philadelphia Child Welfare Caseworker Shortage Tied to Unfair Investigations

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Aug 02, 2023 | 0 Comments

A recent article describes how more and more caseworkers are exiting Philadelphia's Department of Human Services, leaving the DHS understaffed with a backlog of around 100 cases of alleged child abuse waiting to be investigated. In addition to low pay and a stressful work environment, one potential reason for this DHS caseworker exodus is the intense level of investigation required when allegations of child abuse are made – even in cases where it's clear that the abuse allegations are unfounded.

Double Investigations Lead to Distrust

According to a union representative for Philadelphia DHS caseworkers, the social workers who respond to abuse complaints are required to “probe every aspect of a family's life” – even in cases where the allegation may be as simple as a claim that the children don't have enough food to eat. That means that if someone accuses you of child abuse or neglect, a Philadelphia DHS caseworker will come to your home, interview each of your child or children in private, and ask questions about your family's mental and physical health, whether any family members are suffering from substance abuse, whether you and your partner or spouse sleep together or separately, and look through your home, opening drawers and cupboards. After that – even if they find nothing of concern – they are required to return for a second investigation, including another round of private interviews with your children.

These policies, according to the union president, “go above and beyond state requirements in terms of the depths of the investigations they're performing.” One fallout from this is that there is “massive distrust” of Philadelphia's DHS in the community.

What to Do if You Are Being Investigated

If you receive a notice that someone has made a claim that you are abusing your child or children, there are steps you can take to make sure that the investigation that follows is as fair as possible. First, you do have the right to be represented by an attorney during the investigation process. This can be enormously helpful in the stressful and unfamiliar circumstances of a DHS investigation.

An attorney can help make sure that the questions the DHS investigator is asking are clear and fair and that you understand what the investigator is asking before you give your answer. This is more important than you might think. If a DHS investigator bases their conclusions on answers you've given to unclear or unfair questions, your kids might end up being placed in foster care because of a simple misunderstanding. Having an experienced attorney present can significantly reduce the chances of there being a disastrous misunderstanding of this type.

In addition, your attorney can make sure that the DHS investigator does not exceed the permissible limits for their inspection of your home and questioning of others who live with you, including your children. And your attorney will stay in touch with the DHS caseworker who is handling your investigation to make sure that any open issues are addressed as quickly and as fairly as possible.

The LLF Law Firm Team Can Help

If you've been notified that a child abuse claim has been made against you, contact the LLF Law Firm Criminal Defense Team immediately. They have years of experience representing good people like yourself who have been accused (often anonymously) of suspected child abuse, and they understand how the investigation process works in Philadelphia and the rest of Pennsylvania. They will help you understand what's going on, and when investigators come to your door, they can be there to help you through what can be a very invasive and intimidating process.

Don't delay – if you find yourself under investigation by the Philadelphia DHS or any other child services program in Pennsylvania, call today at 888.535.3686 or schedule a confidential consultation with the LLF Law Firm Team by completing the online contact form. We understand how upsetting this can be, and we are here to listen and to help!

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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The LLF Law Firm Team has decades of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the LLF Law Firm today! Our Criminal Defense Team will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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