The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Michigan children's protective services workers challenge outrageous cuts

May 17, 2004

Children's Protective Services workers rallied on May 5th in Detroit, Michigan to denounce the state's plans to cut child abuse investigators. If plans are implemented, the workforce in Wayne County would be cut by 10%. Nearly half the 200 person department joined in the protest which also included community activists.

In order to ram the cuts through, the state came up with an absurd caseload formula that does not include pending cases – cases where someone reports there has been abuse or neglect but no one has had time to investigate yet.

Investigators are so overworked in Wayne County they have MORE pending cases than "actual" cases. Because the state wants to cut the budget they are pretending that abused and neglected kids whom the overloaded caseworkers haven't gotten to yet, don't exist!

Workers were outraged and worried about kids dying and rightly voiced their concerns with homemade signs and chants at the spirited rally.

The Child Welfare League of America, an advocacy organization, says the optimal caseload for child protective services workers is about 12 cases per worker. In Wayne County, if the very real "pending" cases are counted, workers average 31 cases per worker even before the cuts the state wants!

Recently increased tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy have meant that "general fund" revenue, which pays for human services and the prison system in Michigan, has dropped 20% in the last 5 years. Acting like the situation is unsolvable, the state says this means human services must be cut.

In this case, children's lives are being put at risk while politicians continue to worship at the altar of tax cuts for corporations.

The budget mess in Michigan is often blamed on the previous Republican Governor, John Engler, who did accelerate corporate tax cuts of previous administrations. However, politicians like current Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm, who do nothing to reverse the situation, have the blood of children on their hands if they cut protective services workers just to allow the practice to continue.