INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- A group of social workers hired to provide support for the most vulnerable in our communities, say they have been left high and dry by their company, 1st Priority Services.
That company is contracted by the Indiana Department of Children’s Services to provide court-ordered resources, but the employees say they haven’t been paid in weeks and their bosses have disappeared.
“I kind of feel like we’re stuck in the middle,” said 1st Priority Services employee Roxanne Yates. She and a coworker, Monique Walker, both said they started working for the company in 2017 and were contracted to handle court-ordered cases.
“Most of mine were women whose children had been taken away for various reasons,” said Yates.
But starting near the end of this January, both women said none of the company’s eight contracted employees, including themselves, have been paid.
“There’s a total of $16,788.25 that’s owed out,” said Walker.
We also talked with two employees off-camera, who said they are each owed thousands of dollars by 1st Priority Services. They all say communication with the owners has been sporadic, at best.
“It’s almost like they’re trying to cover themselves, but not being really forthcoming with us,” said Yates.
So, where’s the money? Or for that matter, the company itself?
Two addresses listed for 1st Priority Services turned up almost nothing. One was a UPS store with mailbox services and the other was a locked-up office space.
A property manager said 1st Priority Services did have a lease there, but disappeared one night still owing rent.
“At least two of us have already contacted DCS,” said Walker, “We have contacted the Department of Labor."
In a statement, DCS confirms it “has transferred a number of cases that First Priorities (sic) was managing to nearby agencies” but couldn’t discuss specifics. DCS also says it is “continuously monitoring contracts with our partners.”
“All of us love the job that we do,” said Yates, “but it’s really disheartening when you find someone who’s willing to take advantage of not only the employees, but just the system as a whole.”
A system designed to help those in need, with some workers now needing help for themselves.
“Legal action,” said Yates, “that’s the next logical step.”
We have made several attempts to contact the owners of 1st Priority Services, through multiples calls to four different numbers and by email. So far, we have received no response from anyone with the company.