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Social workers rally for better pay in Frankfort

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Posted at 5:26 PM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 06:43:49-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Social workers across the state are pushing lawmakers for a fair pay increase next year to prevent more professionals from quitting the industry. It's a shortage they worry will put kids in danger.

Dozens met on the steps of the capitol Tuesday afternoon as they prepared to enter a scheduled Appropriations and Revenue Committee meeting.

Those in attendance tell LEX 18 600 social workers have left the field since the start of the year and that the "hemorrhaging" of employees is affecting those who are still working.

The Executive Director of the Kentucky chapter of the National Association of Social Workers says some counties have only one worker, which is leading to a slowdown in investigations and certifying new homes for foster care.

"We're all so stretched thin, that it's causing people to leave at an incredibly fast rate," said Shawnte West, a social worker in Jefferson County. "As a supervisor, I'm having to ask people to stay and to know that they're having difficulty taking care of their own families that when we have a shortage of workers, we're putting our staff in dangerous positions by not making sure that we have the support available."

A group of social workers met with Governor Beshear before the committee hearing and say that they're optimistic he will take their wage concerns seriously going into the legislative session.