Child Protective Services is now under the temporary administrative custody of the Department of Youth Affairs after the governor declared a state of emergency on its operations.
It’s been a month since then and DYA executive director Melanie Brennan says that after assuming custody of CPS operations, they had a backlog of around 800 referrals.
Referrals are reports of concerns or abuse that need to be investigated or home visits that need to be conducted.
Brennan says that her staff discovered about 80 additional referrals, which brought the total to 900 outstanding referrals.
With the help of 6 DYA Personnel, 534 referrals have been cleared, as of Tuesday, Feb. 23.
In an interview with PNC, Brennan says that the agency is making progress. However, the department is still being challenged with the shortage of social workers.
“The work that these social workers do is overwhelming, hectic, and every day is different. The crisis that they see on a daily basis has an emotional toll on them. As you can imagine, the burnout rate is high and the turnover is great. So much so, that right now, if you’re looking at CPS as an organization, there are more vacancies than there are warm bodies,” Brennan said.
She added that by next week, the agency is looking to pick up 2 new social workers.
Another challenge the agency faces is the lack of foster parents on the island.
Currently, there are 380 children in some type of foster care.
Brennan says that only 70 kids are in licensed foster homes and the rest are in kinship or relative placement, at Sanctuary and DYA.
“We have approximately 41 licensed foster homes on Guam right now and I would like to have a hundred,” she said.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, you can call 475-2653.