Human Services addresses department’s vacancies

02/27/2019 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH — A Cherokee Nation department with 30-plus employment vacancies was discussed during the Tribal Council’s Feb. 18 Community Services Committee meeting.

In a December report, the department’s Office of Child Support was listed as having 32 employees and three vacancies, Family Assistance with 111 employees and eight vacancies and Youth Services & Special Projects with 16 employees and one vacancy.

But 22 of the department’s vacancies were within Child Care & Development, according to the report, which listed 108 employees.

“If there’s one department that needs to be fully staffed, it should be Human Services,” Tribal Councilor Wanda Hatfield said. “I know you get lots of calls. I get calls. What can we do to help you? We have 22 vacancies in the Child Care & Development. Do we just not have people qualified for these jobs?”

Programs within Human Services offer financial assistance for day care, subsidies for licensing of child care centers and homes, help with child-support issues, elder care services and more. Department representative Jennifer Kirby, the director of youth services and special projects, attributed the vacancies to various reasons.

“I don’t know if you guys have noticed this, but we have a lot of people that work for us in Human Services, and probably across the tribe, that are…caregivers,” she said in the meeting. “We have people that leave because they are having to care for their parents or someone in their family. That takes precedence over their job. We also have a lot of illness, a lot of people that are coming down with illnesses. Sometimes working overnights does not work. At the shelter we have overnight shifts, and that’s not ideal to people who are trying to raise a family. It’s probably a variety of answers.”

Hatfield said while she understands there is a hiring process, “I just feel like there are people out there.”

“Yes, people quit, people get released, so on and so forth,” she added. “I know the process when we hire at the Cherokee Nation. I’m not being critical. I’m just like, if there’s any way we can help or move the process.”
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