Cass Co. Social Services Board Meets With CPS Management Over ‘Hostile’ Work Environment Complaints
The Cass County Sheriff's Office released their investigation in October
FARGO, N.D. — In April, Jennifer Aldinger, a Cass County Child Protection Services (CPS) worker, submitted her letter of resignation.
The Cass County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation, revealing she wasn’t the only one with those feelings.
CPS workers have told Sergeant Joel Stading they are anything but ecstatic when a new work week approaches.
“It was either ‘hostile,’ ‘toxic’ or it was just an environment that they don’t enjoy going to work in. A couple of them even said when Sunday night comes around, they dread going to work because they have to go back to the office,” Stading said.
Stading interviewed 14 people, including supervisors within CPS.
They also told him they felt intimidated by management, there was bullying and a number of them were looking for employment elsewhere.
“Their caseload was a concern. They were saying the amount of cases they were getting assigned was overwhelming,” Stading said.
Aldinger stated in her resignation letter 70 cases were assigned to workers within a two month period, when she was told the average is 14.
“That’s a constant issue in our agency that we need to meet, not only in this unit but in every unit we have in our agency,” Ammerman said.
In the report, Aldinger says she had problems with Tami Anderson, Linda Doriff and Rick Van Camp, all in management roles.
Aldinger says when she did try to do something about it, Van Camp told her to “keep her head down and her mouth shut” and to do as she’s told.
“I’ve talked to Mr. Van Camp. He adamantly denies making that comment to Ms. Aldringer and there’s no way for myself to confirm or deny that,” Ammerman said.
Social Services Director Chad Ammerman suggested a few solutions to the board.
They include starting a workforce well–being project and having supervisors do monthly coaching meetings.
He also says two more case workers will be added in 2020, making the total 15.
Board members didn’t agree with most of them, saying there’s a cultural problem that needs to be fixed. Something Ammerman says he can’t promise them overnight.
“If you’re identifying the cultural change needs to be different tomorrow, as opposed to today, especially with Mr. Wilson’s description of it being dysfunctional, I don’t think I can agree to that that it’s going to be different tomorrow to that level you’re describing,” Ammerman said.
Chairman Chad Peterson says he would like to see the cultural changes as soon as possible.
Other commissioners say they know it won’t change overnight but would like to see a cultural survey handed out in the future so they can keep track if improvements are being made.