New Hampshire’s Office of Child Advocate is endorsing a bill to create 77 positions to better protect children.
Moira O’Neill says 57 of those positions are for child protective service workers. The rest are for supervisors.
The Senate Finance Committee has a hearing on the legislation Tuesday. It would cost about $8.5 million over two years, with $2.5 million coming from federal funds.
Speaking on NHPR's The Exchange, O'Neill said she's aware that the state has limited resources and that "money is not always the answer." But she says the legislation will go far in addressing some priorities listed in her office's first annual report, which was released a week ago, and which called for additional staff and training within the Division of Children, Youth & Families.
“I know that there are probably are folks who think the office of the child advocate shouldn’t be involved in making budget recommendations, but we’ve done an assessment of the needs of children in the state," O'Neill said. "It’s up to the Legislature and the governor to determine how we can best balance the budget and meet those needs.”
O'Neill also responded to a comment last week from House Minority Leader Dick Hinch, R-Merrimack, about some DCYF positions not being filled.
“We did get 33 positions for DCYF last session," she said. "There’s some question about whether or not they’re filled because there are always job vacancies at DCYF. We did look at the workforce data from DCYF. The 33 positions were filled but there is still a high turnover rate and there are also a lot of people who moved to other positions in the agency.”
READ Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers' response to the OCA annual report: