Jefferson County DSS report draws mixed reaction

Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 5:36 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - There are mixed reviews from officials about a detailed analysis of the Jefferson County Department of Social Services after claims of misconduct at DSS.

County lawmakers will hear from the Rochester-based The Bonadio Group Tuesday night. The independent consultant is presenting its detailed 57-page report on the county’s DSS.

“I think overall, a positive report. There were definitely areas that need improvement,” said DSS Commissioner Teresa Gaffney.

The group made 14 recommendations for improvements, some of which Gaffney says have already been addressed. The biggest observation had to do with staffing.

“Our high turnover for staffing really makes it difficult. It’s a stressful job. It takes a lot of training, and when you have turnover, that means the staff that are left have to pick up and do the work,” said Gaffney.

“Overall I thought it was a very good report. It was very favorable to what we’re doing. It’s just that we’re short-staffed and we need to make some improvements that way,” said Jefferson County Administrator Robert Hagemann.

The group’s findings show staffing shortages lead to downfalls in other areas, like the documentation of progress notes, and properly coding case files.

“There is some good stuff in the report. There’s some parts of the report that I don’t feel is good enough for I would expect out of my business or my employees,” said Jefferson County Legislator Anthony Doldo, who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee.

Hagemann says there was one important item that missing from the group’s report.

“What wasn’t found was anything of a real serious nature that required immediate attention to fix,” he said.

Although the group did not find any major concerns, Doldo says changes still need to be made.

“There is definitely improvement that’s needed, and that we really need to look at and see what’s the cause and effect to make changes,” he said.

The findings will be presented Tuesday evening to the Jefferson County Legislature.

See the full report below: