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Mass. Social Workers Say Commissioner Pushing Too Hard

The state Department of Children and Families is trying to do too much too soon, social workers and DCF union members told a legislative committee Tuesday on Beacon Hill.

The oversight hearing was planned before the union's vote of "no confidence" in DCF Commissioner Anthony "Angelo" McClain, who testified he feels a sense of urgency to improve child welfare with new systems, rules and procedures.

McClain said DCF employees are anxious about change as he works to implement those new procedures.

But union president Zevorah Bagni testified social workers are concerned that the commissioner is pushing for change too quickly.

"If you are a drug addict, I want you to change. If you are a runaway child, I want you to change," Bagni said. "So we are foremost believers in change. The issue at hand at this particular point is how the change is coming about."

Social worker Christian King said social workers who lack in training are being sent on "initial assessment" assignments to investigate abuse or neglect.

"DCF regulations require over 40 hours of training to be able to conduct investigations," King said. "And front-line social workers are very concerned about their safety. They have not been trained, and they would like training."

The office of Gov. Deval Patrick said McClain is headed in the right direction.

This program aired on November 17, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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