Where are the Social Workers?
A social worker working for local government recently shared with me his workload and the geographical area that falls within his portfolio. While his workload within the family sector included statutory work like dealing with courts matters eg removal of a child from a family, his work also entailed education in matters of family eg providing information to families and constituent members on access to services and issues of law. Still he found that his administrative workload included more than 100 clients on his schedule at any given time. These were set targets in terms of performance.
Added to this load his geographic area included three smaller towns linked to a bigger town. Travel distances were up to 100km one way. And he has to attend district and sometimes provincial meeting. He was also expected to manage a personal continuous development plan and so was expected to attend training sessions. Which ensured that he was updated on legal, operational and administrative matters.
He felt tired. Unmotivated. Disillusioned. Much like his 3 other colleagues who faced similar circumstances while servicing a rural, poor community of more than 160,000 people. If we are serious about support to people from the sphere of government closest to the people, then we must ask where are the professionals who provide the support and services?
A skilled prosperous nation can only be built on skilled, supported and productive people in the areas where they live and raise families. So where are the social workers?