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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 Coordinator, NSASW at a meeting of representatives of NSASW Child Welfare Interest Group and DCS Child Welfare Program Staff

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


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    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 - 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 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. 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

    36. Job/workplace Positive Comments

    37. Job/Workplace: Sub ThemesOnly Positive Comments

    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/WorkplaceOnly 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

    44. Job/WorkplaceOnly 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/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! 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/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 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/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 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)