Every day, caseworkers knock on doors and enter homes where their personal safety could be compromised. Since the murder of an Ohio caseworker in 2001 in the line of duty, PCSAO has emphasized the importance of on-the-job safety. Now, in the time of COVID-19 and the opioid epidemic, caseworker safety is as important as ever.
The coronavirus pandemic has introduced new challenges for caseworkers whose job requires them to make in-person, face-to-face visits and safety assessments.
- June 2020 Webinar from the Children’s Bureau: Child Welfare Worker Safety in the Time of COVID-19: CDC Recommendations for In-Person Interactions with Families: Recording (requires Adobe Connect) | Slides
- Select Resources from CDC and Children’s Bureau
- Additional information from the CDC on Childcare, Schools and Youth Programs
Heroin has been supplemented or replaced by substances that, even in very small amounts, pose a significant safety threat to caseworkers. PCSAO has developed a guide for developing county agency policies to protect staff from opioid exposure, and collected sample policies from both children services agencies and other types of organizations as models.
County Agency Policies
- Athens County Children Services
- Trumbull County Children Services
- Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services
- Licking County Job and Family Services: Policy and Naloxone Acknowledgment Form
- Law Enforcement (drafted by CORSA)
- Library (disposal of found drugs)
- School District: Procurement and Administration
Children services caseworkers interact daily with families who may be struggling with addiction, mental illness, domestic violence and other challenges. Unfortunately, there have been circumstances in which some families attempt to identify the caseworker’s home address or other personal information when the worker would prefer that such personal data remain confidential.
Caseworkers may, depending on the county prosecutor’s interpretation, be considered “designated public service workers,” who are permitted under Ohio Revised Code Section 319.28(B) to file an affidavit with the county auditor’s office requesting to remove their name from any record made available to the general public, both on the Internet and any publicly accessible database, including from the general tax list of property; instead, the auditor will insert the individual’s initials on any such record and on the general tax list of property. County prosecutors have interpreted this language in different ways. Contact your prosecutor for an opinion or county auditor’s office for a sample affidavit.
Safety Incident Reports
PCSAO discontinued collection of quarterly safety incident reports at the end of 2016. See below for annual information about past reports.