Beshear announces 10% pay increase for Ky. social workers

Beshear announces 10% pay increase for Ky. social workers
Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 5:06 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Governor Beshear says the state’s social workers will receive a 10% boost in pay.

Kentucky social workers have said that they are underpaid and overworked. The governor says help is on the way.

Beshear says there’s money in the current budget, that doesn’t need legislative approval, to give social workers a 10% pay raise. He’s also proposing more help, for the profession that has seen hundreds of workers leave, in next year’s budget.

Hundreds of social workers have left their jobs in Kentucky, a job that one worker says requires her to be available 24-7, every day of the year, but Governor Beshear says he is making possible a pay raise, partly because of so may unfilled jobs allowing them to bump everyone up to a higher pay grade in the form of a 10% raise effective next Thursday.

“We are definitely feeling that burden,” said social worker Shana Turner. “The calls continue to come, the reports continue to come, no matter how many staff we have.”

Staffing is a big part of the problem. Governor Beshear says Kentucky has lost 600 workers and it’s because of that loss there’s $15 million in state money available in the current budget for the pay raise.

“We are able to do that working with the personnel cabinet by bumping people up a pay grade. So there is a mechanism to do that,” Governor Beshear stated.

Beshear says the General Assembly has recently rejected calls for pay raises. However, next year, he will propose a loan forgiveness program to attract more hires.

Workers like Shana Turner, of Lexington, say all of it will help.

“We also provide many times out of own pockets to suffice for certain things. For families and children. That a lot of people don’t know. A lot of things are unspoken. Many times, we are going into a budget that’s already strained,” Turner said.

There’s been a lot of talk this week about who should qualify for hero pay in COVID-19 rescue plan dollars, from nurses to first responders, and Governor Beshear says his administration will propose social workers are included in those proposals.

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