Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hands Tied, Child protection workers talk about working in, and leaving, B.C.'s child welfare system

Pivot report finds social workers quitting in frustration

Pivot Legal Society. May 6 2009.

A new Pivot report based on a survey of 109 social workers in the Ministry of Children and Families concludes that front line workers leave due to inability to do their jobs in the face of huge caseload

Hands Tied, Child protection workers talk about working in, and leaving, B.C.'s child welfare system

Download pdf of report here

Published May 2009 by Pivot Legal Society.

BC Association of Social Workers
May 6 2009.


This new report, released by Pivot Legal Society, is a thoughtful and sobering analysis offering frontline child protection social workers the opportunity to voice their experiences, frustrations and hopes for a better way of practicing child protection Social Work in British Columbia. For years BCASW has been reporting many of these same concerns to government and advocating for the best interests of children, youth and families and for the frontline workers who dedicate themselves day-in and day-out to fight to help our most vulnerable citizens.

The four most cited reasons for leaving MCFD’s child protection front lines include “unmanageable caseloads, a lack of confidence in all levels of leadership and management, high stress levels, and a lack of preventative and supportive resources for children and families.” Across BC, frontline workers, community support workers and other professionals are struggling under the heavy weight of caring for those who appear to be left behind. This is not theoretical to child protection social workers, who work with people who require immediate help, within a supportive safety net that is completely frayed.

We endorse key recommendations of Pivot’s report and add some of our own in the hope that the next administration will work with stakeholders, most importantly children, youth and families to make substantive, timely and crucial improvements to the child welfare system:

  • Adequately fund the entire child welfare system with a priority on increasing staffing levels and reducing caseloads;
  • Increase funding for community preventative and supportive services, prioritizing the needs of Aboriginal children and families, immigrant and refugee families and children with developmental disabilities;
  • Decrease the administrative burden and re-focus efforts on engaging in respectful collaboration, caring and supportive work with clients and other stakeholders;
  • Mentor, encourage and “support leaders who instill confidence in workers” (Pivot)
  • Provide support for employees in ongoing education and create an organizational culture that truly encourages learning, professional development and Social Work value-based practice;
  • Offer those working in child protection opportunities for transfers into other program areas to receive respite from potential or actual burnout, for workers to renew themselves and as a way to retain skilled and educated employees.
  • Create auxiliary pools of individuals with child protection experience who are available for contract work, offer opportunities for flexible work hours and increase job sharing and part-time hours to accommodate work-family-life balance.

Child protection workers demand immediate government action to address staffing crisis
BCGEU. May 6 2009.

"How many more reports will it take for the Campbell government to recognize there is a staffing crisis in BC's child protection system and it's only going to get worse - with vulnerable children and families paying the price," said Darryl Walker, president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU).

"Child protection is a high-stress job to begin with. Try doing it in a crisis-driven and under-resourced system like we have in BC. It's no wonder child protection workers are leaving their jobs at an alarming rate. They're fed up with having to do more with less, and having neither the confidence in the ministry nor the resources to keep children safe and support families in need."


Survey finds social workers are stressed

Janet Brown | Email news tips to Janet
CKNW. 5/6/2009 .

A survey finds social workers in the Ministry of Children and families are quitting in frustration because of huge caseloads.

Child protection workers say on average they're only able to spend 35 minutes with a family with sometimes up to 60 caseloads on their plate.

BC Goverment and Service Employees Union President Darryl Walker says youngsters are suffering as a result because "we are not doing a good job of protecting our children, especially those where there is some requirement of taking them into custody."

The report by the Pivot Legal Society also found 60-per cent of former child protection workers say they were only sometimes able to act in the best interest of children.

March 18, 2009

Representative's Report #5 - Critical Injuries and Deaths: Reviews and Investigations

Representative for Children & Youth.

RCY reviews and investigations of critical injuries or child deaths from October 1, 2008 to January 31, 2009.

To view the report, click here.

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