By Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson)

Word Count: 254

The governor is absolutely right to push for the $7.5 million it will take to hire the 100 new family case managers and 17 supervisors the Department of Child Services needs to meet state caseload standards and protect children. There may be skeptics in his own party questioning the wisdom of paying for more caseworkers even after the state has added hundreds since 2012.  The simple fact is this is the right thing to do.

A core function of state government is protecting those without a voice. Neglected and abused children don’t have a family support system to fall back on, frankly they have very few people in their corner at all. The network of volunteers, advocates, providers and caseworkers are often these children’s only backstop. Ensuring the Department of Child Services has the resources to keep caseloads manageable and prevent cases of child abuse or neglect from slipping through the cracks is an absolute responsibility of lawmakers.

For state government, there is no higher priority than protecting children. The fact that some among the governor’s party are unable or unwilling to recognize this simple truth is alarming. I commend the governor for doing the right thing and will lead the legislative effort in the Senate to get these caseworkers hired immediately.

Our commitment is to those who can’t speak up for themselves. Too often those voices fade from the conversation over spending priorities. The governor is right to make a down-payment toward saving future lives. It’s my hope lawmakers can make a similar choice.