Case workers from the New Hampshire Division for Children Youth and Families went before lawmakers Tuesday to ask for additional staff to keep up with a growing number of child abuse reports.
Caseworkers at DCYF, the state agency that investigates allegations of child abuse, currently juggle an average of around 45 cases each. The nationally recommended level is 12 cases.
A bill before the legislature would add 77 new caseworkers and supervisors over the next two years at a cost of $8.5 million.
DCYF caseworker Shauna Smith told a committee of House lawmakers Tuesday that employees like her are charged with making incredibly important decisions, like whether or not a child has to be removed from their parents.
"Do you want a burnt out, exhausted, overwhelmed social worker making these life altering changes about your family?"
DCYF Director Joseph Ribsam told lawmakers he expects the current caseload average will continue to creep up if staffing levels aren't increased.
"The current environment is pretty close to impossible to operate in, at least if you want to give the type of sustained attention to every family that they deserve," he said.
The bill has already passed the state Senate with no opposition.