Home » Kentucky social workers to get pay increase to help improve retention

Kentucky social workers to get pay increase to help improve retention

State’s social workers to get 10% pay increase; new pilot program expedites hiring

FRANKFORT, Ky. — To thank social workers for their work and recognize the significant number of resignations the state is seeing, Gov. Andy Beshear on Wednesday announced a pay increase and a plan to recruit and retain more social workers. The plan includes an immediate 10% pay increase for workers, a pilot program that expedites hiring and a proposed student loan forgiveness program.

Shawnte West, a family services office supervisor; state social workers Katy Coleman and Devin Reul; and Jimmy Salyers, a social worker and the advocacy and legislative committee chair with the National Association of Social Workers Kentucky chapter, joined the governor and Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander for the announcement in the state Capitol Rotunda.

The governor’s announcement would not have happened without the advocacy efforts of workers and that the plan will be more effective because the ideas came directly from Kentucky’s social workers.

Pay raise

The governor said beginning Dec. 16, all workers and family support staff across state government agencies will receive a 10% raise funded through approximately $15 million in the existing budget.

The 10% pay increase will be provided to more than 3,900 employees in the following roles: Social services aide I and II; social services worker I and II; social services clinician I and II; social services specialist; public assistance program specialist; field services supervisor; family services office supervisor; case management specialist I, II and III; family support specialist I, II and III; service region administrator; service region administrator associate and service region clinical associate. Employees can expect to see the pay increase on their Jan. 15 paystub.

Expedited hiring process

In a recent meeting the governor had with the social workers who joined him, they raised the need for salary increases but also for an expedited hiring process, and the governor announced plans to address it.

As part of a pilot program, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is working to hire entry-level workers and family support specialists within seven business days of applying.

Loan forgiveness

Another issue that our workers face is the requirement to attend school and earn multiple degrees throughout their careers. The governor said degrees are expensive, especially when you take into consideration what these folks have been earning. In his upcoming budget proposal, the governor said he will propose a loan forgiveness program for the state’s social workers.

Interim employment can set employees on a path to full-time state employment with benefits. For full job class specifications and employee benefits, please visit the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet site.

Previous budget proposals

The governor attempted to include funding for additional social workers in his first budget, seeking to use nearly $31.6 million to add 350 social workers over two years. Last year, his budget earmarked more than $7 million to fund additional social workers and retention measures. The governor also sought salary increases for state employees, which would have also benefited our social workers. In these instances, the General Assembly removed the funding requests. The governor is ready to provide funding for social workers once again in his upcoming budget proposal.

Social workers play a huge role in breaking cycles of neglect and abuse. They see the best and the worst of Kentucky families and know that there are far too many Kentuckians, young and old, who struggle to succeed, with hunger, domestic violence, substance abuse, physical and mental illness and countless other issues hurting their chances at a life they deserve.

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