The state child welfare agency's caseload has continued to grow even as it has come under intense scrutiny following the deaths of children in its care.
In the past four months, the caseload at the Department of Children and Families has increased by 4,776, or nearly 15 percent, to 36,835. In the past year, the caseload has jumped by 6,830, or about 23 percent.
The increases come as the state has launched a push to add to the number of social workers.
The agency came under fire following the disappearance last year of Jeremiah Oliver, a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy whose family was under agency supervision.
Jeremiah's body was discovered last month. His mother and her boyfriend are being held on charges including kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and reckless endangerment. They have pleaded not guilty.
After the death of two additional children, former agency Commissioner Olga Roche resigned last month.
The union representing social workers is pressing state lawmakers for an additional $9.9 million in the state budget to help ease the caseload pressure, saying the department needs more workers given the spike in incoming cases.
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