Out of service
In January, Carroll Ragland, director of Child Support Services for rural Glenn County, Calif., was faced with the possibility of laying off two of the four caseworkers in her office after several years of budget cuts. The 62-year-old chose instead to retire early after 20 years in the state’s child support system, the last five of which have been in Glenn County. Approaching her last days in office this month, she spoke with American City & County about her decision.
Q: What led to your decision to retire?
A: We are entirely state funded, [and] we have been getting progressively smaller budgets. For the last year-and-a-half to two years, I’ve not filled vacancies as they have come up. So, we are down to what I call an irreducible minimum. I have four case managers, and they share 2,200 cases. If we cut case managers, that increases their case load, and, to make up the budget shortfall, it’s either me or two case workers. If I lay off two caseworkers, I end up with two remaining caseworkers sharing 2,200 cases, and we would be providing no service. I mean, we can’t. The backlog would be horrendous.
Q: How are your staff members handling the decision?
A: They’re appreciative that I’m doing what I can to save their jobs. However, they’re concerned about the [idea] of regionalization or consolidation and their jobs down the line. They’re also concerned that the state may force the issue by consistently under-funding [the Glenn County program], which has been their pattern for the five years that I’ve been [with the county]. I did volunteer to my board that I would come back and work part time, whatever hours were available to remain within the budget. My thought was that I could retire and, in between drawing my retirement and working part time, I’d be making a decent enough salary to get by. That’s why I [decided to retire;] I can afford it. I’ve got a staff that can’t.