Case workers for the Department of Children and Families picketed Tuesday in Lowell demanding more help.
They say they're overworked and can't keep up with the caseload; sometimes leading to deadly consequences.
“This is unprecedented. We’ve never, never, never had the caseloads that we have now,” Jennifer Capone said.
Their concerns come at a time when the embattled agency is coming under fire for the mishandling of the Jeremiah Oliver case; he’s the 5-year-old from Fitchburg whose body was found in a suitcase off Interstate 190 in sterling last Friday.
“What we’re trying to do today and what we’re trying to call attention to is really trying to avoid more crises like what happened to Jeremiah,” Patrick Mackinnon said.
Even the governor is weighing in on the Oliver case, well aware that social workers say they're caseload levels are off the charts. They believe 15 cases for a social worker is doable but presently some employees are handing double that number.
“They need more resources; in people and technology. With the help of the legislature we’re going to do that,” Patrick said.
While lawmakers square off over funding, they do it after many would say the system failed a five year old boy.