Social Work Turns Academic State Counselors Required to Take Competency Test
Stobbe, Mike, The Florida Times Union
Esther Moss is stressed about the test.
Moss is one of 2,772 state child protective services workers
who -- starting today -- have to take an unprecedented new
It is a three-hour, 100-question, multiple-choice,
use-a-No.-2-pencil exam designed to make sure the Florida
Department of Children and Families workers who handle child
abuse and neglect cases know what they're doing.
Those who get an 80 percent or better will get a new job
title and a 5 percent pay raise. Those scoring lower may end up
losing their current jobs.
And so Moss, 53, is stressed.
"I have a lot of anxiety," she said during an interview in
her office this week.
There are binders and binders full of rules, laws and
policies, and every year some are updated or changed. Moss says
she knows how to do her job, but can she answer every policy
question that might come up?
"A lot of anxiety," she repeated.
Why the test? For years, the competency of the state's child
protective services workers has been criticized, usually in the
wake of headline-grabbing incidents which ended with the serious
injury or death of an abused child whom the state was supposed
to be watching over.
"I think there was general agreement that we needed to
improve the competency level for that job classification," said
state Sen. Bill Bankhead, RPonte Vedra Beach, who sits on the
Senate subcommittee that handles social services appropriations.
State officials came up with a plan to extend the training of
new protective services workers and create new competency
testing that involves both a written test and a "field test," in
which the workers are to be observed doing their job.
Tied to that was a proposal for a pay increase, including a 5
percent boost when the written test was passed and another 5
percent when they passed the field test.
The testing plan got a green light in the spring when the
Legislature appropriated a total of $6.5 million in state and
federal money for the development of the written test and the
first round of pay raises. …