The state’s Office of Children’s services has hired a new staffer to fill its vacant social worker post in Petersburg. Children’s Services Specialist Enrique Sanchez started late last month in the one-person office. The job has been particularly high-profile in the past year as the close network of social and emergency service professionals in Petersburg have worried that OCS might close the local branch, which once had two employees. OCS officials said they planned to keep it open and the job remained in the Governor’s proposed budget. The local caseworker deals with child welfare issues including reports of child abuse and neglect in Petersburg, Wrangell and Kake.
This Month, Matt Lichtenstein spoke with Enrique Sanchez and his supervisor Kathy Kathy Branch-Gadd who works out of Sitka as well as Southeast Regional Childrens Services Manager Sharon Fleming in Juneau. Sanchez and his family moved to Petersburg from Kotzebue where he had worked with OCS for a year. He says the Petersburg job is an important one for every community.

The OCS officials added that their new caseworker will be out of town for training the week of February 13th and the week of March 12th. The toll-free reporting number for concerns about child welfare is 888-622-1650. Callers can remain anonymous.