The director of the largest agency in state government says he’s trying to streamline office functions to free up money he could use to hire more social workers.

Jerry Foxhoven has been director of the Iowa Department of Human Services since mid-June. He says many of the agency’s current social workers lack basic tools like modern smartphones that could speed up their field investigations.

“So if they’re sent out to see a family and that’s not where they are, they couldn’t Google it,” Foxhoven says. “They’d have to go back to their office.”

Foxhoven has been meeting with social workers in the agency and getting their ideas for improving the child protection system.

“Their caseloads are somewhat high and they’re just bureaucratically worn out by the bureaucracy that we have,” Foxhoven says.

The agency’s current budget for field operations is 16 million dollars less than it was a year ago.

(Reporting by Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell)