DHS Working To Fill Retirement Gaps

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

Lobbies are packed, services at the Department of Human Services are at an all time high and come January there will be 1,300 fewer workers.

"This represents a huge amount of institutional memory and expertise across Michigan," said Communications Director Edward Woods III.

Katie Green helps people apply for food stamps and other services and she helps hundreds of people, literally.

"I have about 610 maybe a little over 600," said Green.

And that's just shy of the average, which is 710 cases per worker.

How do they do it? How do they manage to keep up and not let anyone slip through the cracks?

"Just try to stay organized," says Green. "That's about it. That's all you can do."

Four hundred of the retirees are caseworkers, meaning there are up to at least 280,000 cases that need to be organized for others to pick up.

"We're concerned but fortunately we have a plan. We've hired 50 people over the last two years to replace those who have retired or might have been in a limited term assignment maybe for one or two years and now as a result of the retirements, they're able to go into full time positions." said Woods.

Woods also says the department's online system can help expedite service to the clients and the new Bridges software is also supposed to help.

It might as well be a revolving door at DHS as each month it's a new record number applying for food services and Medicaid. So the gap left by early retirement has many wondering if DHS really can do more with less.

"To lose that many people will be devastating," said Ray Holman who works for the UAW 6000, union for state workers.

"Right at a time where demand has never been greater we're operating with a skeleton crew," said Holman.

Holman adds that these jobs are complicated a require a lot of training that can't be filled with just anyone.

"It takes time to adequately replace. .... [and] people's lives are at risk if we don't provide the basics and don't adequately train. It will end up costing us more.

But DHS says with their plan, they hope no one will suffer.

"I don't want people to think we're not going to be there for them, that's the worst thing," said Woods.

DHS is still in need of some limited term employees. If you're interested in apply, go to the web site below.

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