A state civil service representative said Luzerne County Children and Youth is not barred from obtaining a fresh list of applicants needed to fill caseworker vacancies as had been stated last week at a public meeting in Wilkes-Barre.
County Children and Youth Director Frank Castano told county council members that his office’s inability to obtain a new list was slowing up hiring and bolstering his support for getting out of the civil service system in favor of an in-house recruitment and selection program.
Castano said civil service won’t provide a fresh list of qualified applicants until he closes out the current list. He said he had exhausted the current list but can’t close it out until a final applicant starts work at the end of August when she obtains her needed college degree.
State Civil Service Commission spokesman Jack McGettigan said the commission will furnish a new list at any time. Government entities are asked to submit the old list indicating the status of each person, and the county could indicate the status as a pending hire for the woman who has not completed her degree, he said.
The commission requests the statuses on expired reports so it does not repeat unwanted candidates on a new list, McGettigan said.
The county’s Children and Youth department has two outstanding lists that have not been returned with status reports, McGettigan said. “If the county has exhausted a list,” he said, “it can get another list right away.”
A commission representative contacted the county to clarify the procedure after reading Castano’s comments at the public meeting, he said.
Castano’s department had received a different explanation of the process and will request another list, he said, though he still supports converting to an in-house program. County Interim Human Services Division Head Mary Dysleski said she will develop a proposal to leave civil service for the county manager’s consideration.
The county hired 16 caseworkers since January to fill vacancies, but the department is still down 10 caseworkers due to seven resignations, two terminations and one job shift this year to date. The county’s 2013 budget provided funding for 100 caseworkers in the department.
The commission develops and administers job-specific tests to generate its ranked lists of qualified candidates for 37 state agencies and 300 local government offices, including Luzerne County’s Aging, Mental Health and Developmental Services and Drug and Alcohol departments.
McGettigan said the commission does not charge the county for services that must be handled by staffers if the county opts out. The commission regularly seeks feedback on the skills of applicants to determine if its tests should be tweaked, he said. For example, the commission added testing on the generating of reports after counties identified that as a skill needed in caseworkers.