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NSASW Work Life Survey: A Glimpse at Some Key Child Welfare Results with a comparison to non child welfare results Presentation by Graeme M. Fraser, RSW.

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Presentation on theme: "NSASW Work Life Survey: A Glimpse at Some Key Child Welfare Results with a comparison to non child welfare results Presentation by Graeme M. Fraser, RSW."— Presentation transcript:

1 NSASW Work Life Survey: A Glimpse at Some Key Child Welfare Results with a comparison to non child welfare results Presentation by Graeme M. Fraser, RSW Coordinator, NSASW at a meeting of representatives of NSASW Child Welfare Interest Group and DCS Child Welfare Program Staff Nov. 5, 2008

2 About the survey Initiated by the Ontario Association of Social Workers in 2006 Most other provincial associations agreed to survey their members NSASW used the Ontario survey without change (to enable comparisons) except that a few questions were deleted and a few others added

3 About the survey A general survey of all NSASW members (not specifically child welfare) Respondents were asked to identify their field of practice from about 20 choices Also whether front-line, supervisor, management, consultant, educator, etc.

4 About the survey From the total results pulled out sub groups – all child welfare – child welfare (direct practice, frontline) – all fields of practice other than child welfare

5 About the survey Survey was conducted in December 2006 and January 2007 using an online survey program 557 completed surveys returned; 35% completion rate (NSASW membership - about 1600, including inactive and retired members) Child Welfare sub-group responses (including 95 frontline) Non Child Welfare sub-group - 378

6 About the survey Not every respondent answered every question (about 8-12% no answer) Figures throughout presentation are percentages of those who responded to that particular question Comparison with non child welfare is to give a perspective not a standard (in some cases, results from child welfare and non-child welfare may be similar, but both concerning)

7 How social workers spend their time

8 What percentage of your work time do you spend on each of the following tasks?

9

10

11 Relationships make a difference to outcomes

12 Importance of Relationships “Social work in child welfare should focus on relationship building, early intervention, increased contact with the client’s community and decreased legal and court work (Herbert, 2003) so that social workers can focus on interventions to protect children and strengthen families.” (Child Welfare Deaths: A Review of the Recommendations, a presentation at the CASW Conference, May 2008)

13 What Works? “The most important condition for success was found always to be the quality of the relationship between the child’s family and the responsible professional.” (DH 1995) “The core of our (social workers’) craft is making purposeful relationships”. (Presentation by Mike Doolan, New Zealand, re Family Group Conferencing, May 27, 2008)

14 Supporting Families: A Guide to What Works (McKeown, 2000) ( From presentation by Mike Doolan, NZ, May 27, 2008).

15 Pace of work

16 Do you feel rushed at work?

17 Adequacy of human resources

18 Overall, do you believe that your setting employs a sufficient number of people to complete the work to an acceptable standard?

19 Some Factors Impacting Recruitment

20 Importance re difficulty filling vacancies – No qualified applicants

21 Importance re difficulty filling vacancies – Salary low compared to other jobs

22 Importance re difficulty filling vacancies – Problem due to geographical area

23 Importance re difficulty filling vacancies – Field of practice is not appealing

24 Stress Issues

25 As a result of working conditions, have you experienced the following personal consequences:

26 The stress of your job has negatively affected your family and/or social life?

27 Recommending social work to others

28 Would you advise your child or someone else to choose a career in social work?

29

30

31 Worker comments The concluding item on the survey was – “If you have additional comments or information to share with NSASW, please provide it here:”

32 Worker comments The comments about child welfare clearly stand out as one reads through all the comments (number, by not only current but former cw workers, strength of feelings conveyed) No other field of practice or issue elicited comparable responses

33 Worker Comments Total number of comments – 142 (out of 557) – CW - 30 (out of 150 ) 1 in 5 made comments (In addition, 7 Non CW respondents – mostly former cw – made comments about child welfare) – Non CW (out of 378 ) Almost 1 in 3 made comments

34 Main Themes in Comments Positive and negative comments re the job/workplace Issues re human rights/safety Concern re understanding/support re social work role Issues re education/training Issues re NSASW Issues re survey itself

35 Analysis of Common Themes in Comments Job/workplace Type of Comments# of CW Comments # of Comments by Non CW about CW # of Non CW Comments Only positive comments 0011 Only negative comments 197 Both positive and negative comments 4011

36 Job/workplace Positive Comments

37 Job/Workplace: Sub Themes Only Positive Comments Sub ThemesChild Welfare (0)Non CW (11) Understanding, respect, supportive environment 06 Job/role05 Management02 Manageable workload 02 SW education02

38 Job/Workplace: Only Positive Comments - Non CW I work for a not-for-profit organization and after almost ten years of employment I still like going to work every day. I attribute that to the management and team I work with. (83*) (Numbers following each comment are respondent identifiers)

39 Job/Workplace Only Positive Comments - Non CW I am very pleased with my career and workplace. I enjoy supporting the social workers I am responsible for and the organization approves of my supporting them. (67)

40 Job/Workplace Only Positive Comments - Non CW I feel valued in my work every day and this plays a large role in my satisfaction with my work and pride in the profession. (125)

41 Job/Workplace Only Positive Comments - Non CW I have my dream job which I truly believe is a vocation and my true calling... (61)

42 Job/workplace Negative Comments

43 Job/Workplace: Sub Themes Only Negative Comments Sub ThemesChild Welfare (19) (+ 7 others re CW) Non CW (19) Volume of work Adequacy of staffing Management Lack of support, respect6 +37 Stress Poor communication40 Lack of input into changes 30 Ethical concerns2 + 11

44 Job/Workplace Only Negative Comments - Non CW After 30 years of SW practice I’m working longer, harder, and with no end in sight and there is no talk of more resources - BRING ON RETIREMENT!!!!! (93)

45 Job/workplace Only Negative Comments – Non CW I believe social workers are fast losing ground in health care systems. Management/policy making positions are being filled by nurses... I feel defeated... The things that used to challenge me now just make me tired! I’ve told my daughter... that she can be anything BUT a social worker who needs to work so hard at a career that extracts such a price emotionally, for little money... (74)

46 Job/Workplace Only Negative Comments - Non CW Workload increased with very poor management and lack of sufficient staffing. (76)

47 Job/Workplace Only Negative Comments – Non CW I am the only clinician in a child and family mental health team.... I am so tired of being invited to apologize for our under- resourced program. We are desperately understaffed and this impacts us, our clients, and the communities we serve.... Lack of safety in the workplace. We are tired of hearing there is not enough money to be safe, responsive, and accessible. (58)

48 Job/Workplace Only Negative Comments – CW Worker I have never felt so overwhelmed by the pace of change and the increasing demands based on volume of work and the intensity and complexity of the cases. I feel that I cannot maintain my own standard of work because I simply cannot stretch myself any further. I am used to working hard and putting in my own personal time to get those extra tasks accomplished. As it stand now, I could work every weekend and I still wouldn’t be caught up.

49 (continued)... My solution to all of this is to give up after (many) years in child welfare and look for other employment. It seems a shame that it has come to this but I cannot see any hope that our system will change.... I regret that I have only negative comments to offer but I guess that is truly the way that I feel. (33) (For more detail see the Appendix)

50 Job/Workplace Only Negative Comments – CW worker The issues are complex, yet our training is repetitive. We have no time to do community capacity building, time to affect long term positive changes in families, rather than just doing short- term stop gap measures to satisfy BF’s or supervisors without vision.... We need to build on strengths, draw in family and community resources. We need supervisors and managers to think outside the child welfare box. We need more staff, and we need to be taking better care of us. That’s my rant... thanks for listening. (113)

51 Job/workplace Only Negative Comments – CW Worker... Staff need manageable caseloads and solid supervision and training opportunities, all of which seem to be reducing in the do more with less leadership of the last ten years. I have many friends and colleagues in the field, most with very strong ethics. We routinely have conversations about how our ethics are being compromised and the pressure we are under when we speak up and challenge these situations. (108) (For additional details see the Appendix)

52 Job/Workplace Negative Comments - Former CW Worker This survey would have been answered completely different in my previous employment in child protection, (my new job) can be overwhelming and frustrating... but is not stressful in the same way that protective services (and the urgency of it) is. (64)

53 Job/workplace Negative Comments – Former CW Worker I have just exited child protection and was very relieved to do so. NSASW should pay special attention to the state of working conditions for social workers in child protection settings... (122)

54 Job/Workplace Negative Comments - Former CW Worker As a former child welfare worker I am aware how horrible the working conditions are and continue to decline. Too many administrative demands and little acknowledgement for this with reduced actual client support/contacts.... I realize now how much I was personally/emotionally affected... Child welfare is NOT a career I would recommend a social worker to become involved in – however, it does appear to be an “entry level” job for experience – how sad!... Fortunately, I’ve found employment that is manageable and feel more appreciated by the hierarchy.... (99)

55 Job/Workplace Negative Comments - Former CW Worker... if I answered these questions when I was working for Child Protection my answers would be very different – much more stress, overtime, intimidation from clients, stress of work affecting home life... the list goes on... there needs to be changes in that area as far as workload, stress, etc. (70)

56 Job/Workplace Only Negative Comments – Former CW Worker I completed my MSW this year. Prior to that I worked in child protection. My survey would have been completely different – very negative – if I was still working in this field. My MSW has changed my career, my outlook, my health, my income, etc. (130)

57 Job/workplace Both Positive and Negative Comments

58 Job/Workplace: Sub Themes Both Positive and Negative Comments Sub Themes (Positive) Child Welfare (4)Non CW (11) Job/role17 Respected, valued, supportive environment 07 Training opportunities 10 Salary10 No longer on Emerg Duty 10

59 Job/Workplace: Sub Themes Both Positive and Negative Comments Sub Themes (Negative) Child Welfare (4)Non CW (11) Workload (including covering for vacancies) 44 Understanding, support, respect, valued 15 Stress (* + another person said Emerg Duty very stressful when required) 1 4 Can’t attend approved training due to workload 10 Very limited funding for training 01 Work difficult 10

60 Job/Workplace Both Positive and Negative Comments – Non CW... I feel lucky that I am in quite a supportive work environment. However, the demands on our service and very limited resources create a lot of personal stress.... (working p/t + small private practice) It’s all about trying to make enough to live on, have time at home for family and have work that is meaningful. The balance is often very tough. (39)

61 Job/Workplace Both Positive and Negative Comments – Non CW Trying to deal with employer demands, client needs, caregiving issues, and still maintain sanity is a huge challenge!... But I am determined to succeed. I love my work, find it rewarding and character- building, but dealing with administration demands, lack of support, increased workload and fewer resources is tough. (38)

62 Job/Workplace Both Positive and Negative Comments – CW Worker I love the work, front line child protection is so important but the paperwork will be the death of me. There is no way that I can find the time to work with my clients to the best of my ability because of the demands of the paperwork. I usually do most of my case notes, case reviews, court work, etc. at home on the week-ends, otherwise my client relationships suffer....

63 (continued) Though I understand that documentation is crucial, it takes so much from our clients it is heartbreaking. But what can you do? I am fortunate that my life is at a stage that I can work as much as I can in my free time.... All that being said, I wouldn’t do anything else! (50)

64 Some Issues Arising From the Survey Results Time – Adequate time for client contact and documentation – How can more time be available for client contact? – Can documentation requirements be streamlined? Will ICM help? Recruitment and retention – How can we develop a bigger pool of better qualified applicants? – What more can be done to enhance professional development opportunities for current workers? What can be done to retain workers longer?

65 Issues (continued) Stress – What can be done to reduce stress levels? – How can we support cw workers better? Quality of Service – What are the implications of these results for quality of service? Do we have a way to assess that? – To what extent are the standards an accurate measure of service quality? – Do we have any outcome measures?

66 APPENDIX Additional Sample Comments

67 Job/workplace Positive Comments

68 Job/Workplace Only Positive Comments - Non CW I am overall very happy with my employment and union. (63)

69 Job/Workplace Only Positive Comments – Non CW I feel very supported in my current position and hence my job satisfaction is high... (126)

70 Job/workplace Negative Comments

71 Job/Workplace Only Negative Comments – Non CW I have started another degree to look at doing something other than social work.... This is not due to clients. It is because of the organizations I have worked for and feel unappreciated by the organization and management. (140)

72 Job/workplace Only Negative Comments – Non CW Fiscal limits, workload demands, transient workers, limited support from supervisors all contribute to an increasing sense of feeling overwhelmed. It seems that new workers are thrown head first into CP case management with little to no experience/supervision. They simply do not stay, as a result more experienced workers are given increasing numbers of high risk cases to manage to meet the need.

73 (continued) Little expressed appreciation of same, limited, if even possible proactive work replaced by reactive decision making, complexity of cases, no end in sight seems to contribute to poor morale and stress leave. Quality of work suffers, risk to clients increases as a result. Management needs to listen to frontline workers...provide and show support. (29) (Although in Non CW group, obviously very close to cw)

74 Job/workplace Only Negative Comments – CW Worker Many studies have been done that speak to issues in child welfare. We need serious advocacy to government in support of more social workers to do the work. (18)

75 Job/workplace Only Negative Comments – CW Worker The work place has changed dramatically over the past few years. The policy makers used to consult with front line workers regarding changes in policy. Now changes are made unilaterally and many of these changes will lead to problems in future. Workers are being asked to produce based on numbers rather than quality of work and sound practice.

76 (continued)... while the work load can be quite unmanageable at times, much of the stress is directly related to the request and approval for services... The way in which staff are treated when a high profile case needs to be dealt with. (45)

77 Job/workplace Only Negative Comments – CW Worker I believe we are currently under unnecessary pressure by bureaucrats... to make significant changes to our system often without any consultation. This is a high stress profession, not often understood by folks outside of the profession. We need to somehow take back our profession and gain the respect that we used to have in this field not only from our “superiors” but also from the courts, lawyers, educators, etc.

78 (continued) To do this staff need manageable caseloads and solid supervision and training opportunities, all of which seems to be reducing in the do more with less leadership of the last ten years. I have many friends and colleagues in the field, most with very strong ethics. We routinely have conversations about how our ethics are being compromised and the pressure we are under when we speak up and challenge these situations. (108)

79 Job/workplace Only Negative Comments – CW Worker I do feel the region needs to be more flexible with social workers and provide more opportunities for growth, instead of burning some people out. If a person is to stay healthy working in this field, you need to have the respect of your employer and the people who are the decision makers. I feel that the region does not have a good understanding of what front line staff have to go through, there is

80 (continued) not enough respect and not enough support from the region in many different areas. Service delivery becomes more difficult due to autocratic practice of certain managers. I sometimes feel that we are going backwards and as a committed front line worker, it is hard to deal with the decisions that I see are being made around me, also how some of my co-workers are being treated. (116)

81 Job/workplace Only Negative Comments – CW Worker... if we are wanted to create a positive environment with our clients, why does management not do the same? We are dumped on by management without support, and we in turn dump on our clients. If we had a supportive workplace, we might be able to support our clients more. (141)

82 Job/Workplace Only Negative Comments – CW Worker I have never felt so overwhelmed by the pace of change and the increasing demands based on volume of work and the intensity and complexity of the cases. I feel that I cannot maintain my own standard of work because I simply cannot stretch myself any further. I am used to working hard and putting in my own personal time to get those extra tasks accomplished. As it stand now, I could work every weekend and I still wouldn’t be caught up.

83 (continued) Unfortunately, I am at an age when I cannot work these extra hours and I do not want to work these hours. Therefore, I usually feel that I am not doing justice to my clients. I constantly worry about all that needs to be done and what might go wrong as a result.... My solution to all of this is to give up after (many) years in child welfare and look for other employment. It seems a shame that it has come to this but I cannot see any hope that our system will change.

84 (continued) I know that all systems have challenges but I can only hope that the next place of employment will have more reasonable expectations based on workload and that there will be active management to ensure that everyone is doing their part and working in the interests of clients when developing new policies. I look forward to feeling competent again when I have the time to do my work well and have a supportive work environment. I regret that I have only negative comments to offer but I guess that is truly the way that I feel. (33)

85 Job/workplace Only Negative Comments – Former CW Worker I have only been doing this job for two years, but previously, as a front line protection work, my answers would look very different... which is why I changed positions. (69)

86 Job/workplace Both Positive and Negative Comments

87 Job/Workplace Both Positive and Negative Comments - Non CW I have received support from my supervisor and unit manager.... The frustration of this position is not having time to provide a high standard of social work services I am used to.... What keeps me going is that everyone agrees and wants to change it in future and are working on it. (10)

88 Job/Workplace Both Positive and Negative Comments – Non CW Although my work is stressful... And there could be a lot more in place in terms of debriefs and support, it is generally a great job, and I feel supported and respected. (28)

89 Job/Workplace Both Positive and Negative Comments – Non CW Overall, I have had a great career.... Working for the provincial government has become increasingly challenging as social workers are not valued and it seems to me that financial considerations are taking priority over the needs of vulnerable people. (65)

90 Job/Workplace Both Positive and Negative Comments – Non CW... I am fortunate to have excellent social work colleagues and support from the multidisciplinary team with whom I work. I look forward to coming to work each day in spite of the sometimes challenging environment. (102)

91 Job/Workload Both Positive and Negative Comments – Non CW I currently work in an environment... which is quite supportive of me and the profession but I was in provincial government where things were extremely negative. I feel that has had an impact on my general outlook on work. (110)


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