Billy Harville, Child Welfare worker and first responder for child abuse allegations and neglect
“We need to protect the jobs that save the lives of abused children in this community, and that means paying a fair wage to skilled social workers.”
Harville sees a trend that must reverse: Calls of child abuse and neglect are coming in at a much higher rate in Sonoma County than the number of social workers trained to handle them.
Workers like Harville are first responders to allegations of child abuse and neglect. He confronts situations where a parent is violent or under the influence. He must then ask questions about bruises or injuries on a child.
The work is emotionally taxing and dangerous and requires a high level of skill. Staffing levels in his department are half of where they should be.
Harville says his department has not been able to recruit and retain social workers because the County does not offer competitive wages when compared to surrounding counties.
For Harville, more than 30% of his take-home pay goes towards healthcare. He makes $5 less than he did a decade ago. He also must work overtime to handle the increasing caseloads.
Sonoma County must do the right thing and pay these social workers a decent, living wage so that the children of our community have a chance to be protected from abuse.