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NSASW Work Life Survey: A Glimpse at Some Key Child Welfare Results

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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 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: NSASW Work Life Survey: A Glimpse at Some Key Child Welfare Results


1
NSASW Work Life SurveyA 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 - 150 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
What percentage of your work time do you spend on
each of the following tasks?
10
What percentage of your work time do you spend on
each of the following tasks?
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 clients 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 childs 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
Would you advise your child or someone else to
choose a career in social work?
30
Would you advise your child or someone else to
choose a career in social work?
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 - 112 (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 0 0 11
Only negative comments 19 7 19
Both positive and negative comments 4 0 11
36
Job/workplace
  • Positive Comments

37
Job/Workplace Sub ThemesOnly Positive Comments
Sub Themes Child Welfare (0) Non CW (11)

Understanding, respect, supportive environment 0 6
Job/role 0 5
Management 0 2
Manageable workload 0 2
SW education 0 2
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/WorkplaceOnly 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/WorkplaceOnly 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 ThemesOnly Negative Comments
Sub Themes Child Welfare (19) ( 7 others re CW) Non CW (19)
Volume of work 6 4 15
Adequacy of staffing 4 3 7
Management 8 3 7
Lack of support, respect 6 3 7
Stress 6 5 5
Poor communication 4 0
Lack of input into changes 3 0
Ethical concerns 2 1 1
44
Job/WorkplaceOnly Negative Comments - Non CW
  • After 30 years of SW practice Im working
    longer, harder, and with no end in sight and
    there is no talk of more resources - BRING ON
    RETIREMENT!!!!! (93)

45
Job/workplaceOnly 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! Ive 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/WorkplaceOnly Negative Comments - Non CW
  • Workload increased with very poor management and
    lack of sufficient staffing.
  • (76)

47
Job/WorkplaceOnly 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/WorkplaceOnly 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 wouldnt 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/WorkplaceOnly 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
    BFs 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. Thats my rant . . . thanks
    for listening. (113)

51
Job/workplaceOnly 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/WorkplaceNegative 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/workplaceNegative 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/WorkplaceNegative 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, Ive found employment that is
    manageable and feel more appreciated by the
    hierarchy. . . . (99)

55
Job/WorkplaceNegative 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/WorkplaceOnly 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 ThemesBoth Positive and
Negative Comments
Sub Themes (Positive) Child Welfare (4) Non CW (11)
Job/role 1 7
Respected, valued, supportive environment 0 7
Training opportunities 1 0
Salary 1 0
No longer on Emerg Duty 1 0
59
Job/Workplace Sub ThemesBoth Positive and
Negative Comments
Sub Themes (Negative) Child Welfare (4) Non CW (11)
Workload (including covering for vacancies) 4 4
Understanding, support, respect, valued 1 5
Stress ( another person said Emerg Duty very stressful when required) 1 4
Cant attend approved training due to workload 1 0
Very limited funding for training 0 1
Work difficult 1 0
60
Job/WorkplaceBoth 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) Its 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/WorkplaceBoth 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/WorkplaceBoth 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 wouldnt 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
APPENDIXAdditional Sample Comments
67
Job/workplace
  • Positive Comments

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

69
Job/WorkplaceOnly 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/WorkplaceOnly 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/workplaceOnly 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/workplaceOnly 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/workplaceOnly 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/workplaceOnly 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/workplaceOnly 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/workplaceOnly 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/WorkplaceOnly 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 wouldnt 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/workplaceOnly 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/WorkplaceBoth 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/WorkplaceBoth 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/WorkplaceBoth 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/WorkplaceBoth 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/WorkloadBoth 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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