Thursday, January 29, 2015

Employment: Worksafe BC Case Manager Information Session - Victoria

Worksafe BC is looking for Case Managers at various locations in B.C.  

Case Managers - Worksafe BC - Information Session 

Date: Tuesday, February 3, 2015 or Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Time: 4-7pm

Location: Victoria Conference Centre — Sidney Room
              720 Douglas Street, Victoria. 

Please RSVP to: by no later than 4:30pm on January 30, 2015.

To view Case Manager and other postings visit the link:

Global: UK Privatization of Child Protection Services

Plans to privatise child protection are moving at pace

Government proposals to open up child protection and other children’s social services to the marketplace have moved ahead unopposed 

Jones, R. (2015). The Guardian. Retrieved from: 

During 2014, the government continued to move forward with the marketisation and privatisation of children’s social services, including child protection investigations and assessments.

Following considerable public opposition in May to initial proposals, the government issued a revised regulation. It does not stop private sector companies from getting contracts to provide child protection and other children’s social services. What they will now have to do is set up a not-for-profit subsidiary to provide the services. Money can then be made for the parent company by charging its subsidiary for management, administration and estates services at a cost determined by the parent company. This is how the big companies such as G4S and Serco, which thrive on government contracts, will be able to generate their profit. Some have argued this will not happen. How strong are their arguments?

First, it has been argued that no private companies would want to take on high-risk services such as child protection, with all the reputational damage that may be incurred. But this just does not add up. They have, for example, recently been awarded contracts for the supervision of offenders in the community. Serco and G4S are already expanding by opening residential children’s homes. And in at least one area of England Serco and G4S together have the contract for the forensic examination of children who may have been sexually abused.

It is said that this is all about innovation, and indeed the government has set up an innovation fund to stimulate new models and approaches in children’s social care, with specific encouragement for local authorities “to provide its children’s services through a third party organisation” and “look to test the validity of an independent model (ie, one commissioned, but not directly provided, by the local authority)”.

But local authorities have a considerable positive track record of innovation and change. It does not require outsourcing and private companies to be given contracts to generate innovation. Indeed, the lesson of outsourcing public services is that it often freezes out future innovation; only that which is stated within the contract will be carried out.

Neither will an influx of management consultants with no expertise or experience in children’s services be helpful. A recent education department briefing invited tenders of “expert advisers who will provide improvement support and challenge to local authorities who have underperforming children’s social care services”. This states that advisers may have relevant experience in children’s social services and local government, but presumably the may means this is not a requirement.

Those attending the briefing included G4S, KPMG, Mouchel and Amey. The latter two are best known as construction and engineering companies, and neither seems to have much or any experience or expertise in providing children’s services or child protection.

It is argued that the creation of a market for children’s social services is a result of the failure of local councils to provide adequate services. Why might this be so? Since 2008 child protection investigations have increased by 60%, child protection plans managed by local councils by 50%, and local authority care proceeding applications to the courts by 104%.

At the same time the government is dramatically reducing local authority funding. Big reductions already, with the Local Government Association noting that there will be a further 8.8% cut starting in April. There are regular stories about children’s services being cut and closed, child protection thresholds getting higher, Ofsted reporting high workloads are a problem in local authorities, and an understandable difficulty in recruiting and retaining social workers.

If the government wanted to undermine local councils’ children’s services it could not do better than follow the current strategy. This is reinforced by the requirement that serious case reviews into the abuse or neglect of a child allocate “accountability” (blame) to agencies and workers. This then allows the argument to be made for opening up a market and promoting “innovation” in children’s social services.

Finally, an argument has been made that no local council would want to contract out its children’s services, and especially not child protection responsibilities, when the authority still holds the statutory responsibility.

But some councils look to contract out these services because of an ideological commitment, and think others outside of what they see as local government bureaucracy will do it better. This is a damning indictment about the confidence and competence of these councils and councillors. In addition, some councils are already seeing this as a part of the solution to the government’s funding cuts. Contract out the services and require others to provide them more cheaply (which will have to be largely achieved by employing fewer, less well paid or less qualified workers, as workforce is the major cost within these services). 

And even if councils do not want these crucial services to leave their direct local democratic control and accountability, the government can direct that local authorities should no longer control or provide the services. The government is already taking this action.

Last year saw considerable progress in opening up child protection and other children’s social services to the marketplace, with great promise that (unopposed) the pace will pick up in 2015. The government has been clear about its ambition to reduce public services and to create the opportunities for private companies to receive public funding. It is happening already for prisons, probation, police, the health service, benefits assessments and schools. It may have been thought that, as for the rest of the world, child protection was a step too far. Not for this government. But what is even more surprising is that it has moved ahead unopposed by Labour and largely under the public and professional radar.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Professional Development: Annual Conference on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder - Vancouver, BC


Conference Date: March 4 – 7, 2015

Location: The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, BC


This advanced-level conference continues to bring together experts from multiple disciplines to share international research. From the pure science, to prevention, diagnosis and intervention across the lifespan, the conference will address the implications of this research and promote scientific/community collaboration. It provides an opportunity to enhance understanding of the relationships between knowledge and research and critical actions related to FASD. First held in 1987, the conference brings together people passionate about this work in a stimulating environment where they can learn and forge new partnerships.

Conference Brochure 


For further information, visit the conference website at

Email: to get on the list to receive updates.

Global: Social workers in Ireland resigning at rate of one a week

Social workers resigning at rate of one a week

New figures on staff turnover obtained by RTÉ's Morning Ireland indicate that social workers are almost twice as likely to resign their positions when compared to management and administrative staff in the Health Service Executive.

Latest figures show 326 social workers left their positions between 2010 and 2013, which represents a turnover rate of more than 15%.

208 resigned, 50 retired, 28 reached the end of their contracts, two died, one left because of permanent infirmity, and 37 joined another health board or agency.

While staff numbers have reduced in most areas of the health service following the introduction of a recruitment moratorium in 2009, the number of social workers increased by 190 to 2,329 at the end of 2013.

The figures indicate that while the State is continuing to recruit social workers, particularly in the area of child and family support, a large number of staff are simultaneously walking away from the profession.

Campaigners say social workers are leaving the job because of stress levels, lack of managerial support and burnout.

They add that continuity of care and the formation of lasting relationships is crucial to effective social work.
However, the chief operating officer with TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency Fred McBride has said since the organisation's inception at the start of last year turnover rates have reduced.

Mr McBride said 102 social workers left the agency in 2014, representing a turnover rate of 6.7%.
"In comparative terms with other jurisdictions that compares extremely well," he said.

"We're looking at a caseload management system to ensure caseloads are kept within a manageable level and we're looking at ways of keeping frontline staff in practice rather than moving them into management grades."

Mr McBride said TUSLA would consider introducing an "exit interview" to assess why social workers are leaving their jobs.

"We're looking at ways of ensuring that social workers coming into the job spend as much time working directly with children and spending less time behind computers."

Former social worker highlights stress levels

One former social worker who spoke on condition of anonymity said staffing levels and high caseloads were causing unsustainable levels of stress for social workers.

She described how agency social workers were brought in at short notice to cover gaps in staffing levels ahead of inspections by the Health Information and Quality Authority.

When the inspectors left, the source said, the agency staff were let go.

"I started to feel that instead of helping these children and families I was now part of a system that was causing them further harm and stress.

"Every social worker I speak to has an exit strategy because it’s impossible. It's not something you can stay in beyond a certain length of time," she explained.

However, Mr McBride denied that such a practice could occur under the new agency.

"I can tell you in the last year we have never used agency staff simply to cover and inspection period," he said.

"Our priority is ensuring that safe service is provided to children and families."

In 2009, the Ryan Report identified the retention of social workers in Irish child care as problematic, with higher turnover rates than other areas.

Irish Association of Social Workers chairman Dónal O'Malley said while some progress has been made since the publication of the report, more was required.

"The big factor is the pressure of the job and the high caseloads. I think that's reflected in the number of people who have chosen to unfortunately get out of the child and family agency," Mr O'Malley said.

"This has been a problem for quite some time even pre-dating the formation of the new TUSLA agency, so it's no surprise this continues to be a problem."

While resignation rates can be higher in other areas of the health service, the Health Service Executive has been actively trying to reduce numbers in certain sectors and most are subject to a recruitment embargo.

Social work is exempt from the embargo and the State is committed to maintaining staffing levels.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Professional Development: Cognitive Behavioural Counselling & Motivational Interviewing - Vancouver and Victoria

Cognitive Behavioural Counselling & Motivational Interviewing: An Integrated Approach

A Two-Day Intensive Workshop with Bob Shebib

Vancouver Session

Dates: February 26 - 27, 2015 (Thursday/Friday)

Location: Maritime Labour Centre, 1880 Triumph Street, Vancouver (Free parking)

Victoria Session

Dates: March 13 - 14, 2015 (Friday/Saturday)

Location: Comfort Inn & Conference Centre, 3020 Blanshard Street, Victoria (Free parking)

Cost: $295 (plus GST) Coffee/refreshments included, lunch on your own. [Call for group (3+) discount rates]

The program

Cognitive Behavioural Counselling (CBT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI) have established themselves as best-practice models for working with a wide range of client issues. Theory, demonstration and hands-on practice will give participants practical and proven strategies that increase the probability for success. The workshop is geared to meet the needs of those who have little or no training with CBT and MI as well as those that wish to review or deepen their skill base.

Some of the topics that will be covered in this workshop:
  •  Fundamental theory and assumptions of CBT and MI
  • Stages of change model as a tool for differential use of skills
  • Utilizing MI to reduce resistance and power struggles
  • Harnessing the power of empathy and other active listening skills
  • Identifying “change talk”
  • Strategies for helping clients to identify helpful and unhelpful thinking patterns
  • Behavioural change strategies
  • Utilizing cognitive behavioural techniques in everyday practice

Register now, pay later. To reserve your spot for this workshop e-mail Your agency can be invoiced. Please include agency name and phone number.

Register early as seats are limited. For additional information contact Bob Shebib: or 778.995.3416.

The Presenter

Bob Shebib is an educator and author who has conducted workshops nationally and internationally. His books have been widely adopted and translated for use by universities throughout Canada and internationally. His book, Choices: Interviewing and Counselling Skills for Canadians, 5th edition (2014), is the current Canadian best-seller in this area. He has recently returned from Africa where he worked with Traditional Healers and hospital based psychiatric staff to bring psychiatric services to remote villages.


Contact Bob Shebib at

Global: Spanish Social Workers and Citizens Rally Against Harms of Austerity

Spanish Social Workers and People That Use Social Work Services Stand Together Against Austerity

IFSW, (2014). 

IFSW expressed full support and solidarity with Consejo General del Trabajo (the Spanish Council of Social Workers) by joining them in their campaign against austerity at the European Parliament held today on the International Day of Human Rights.

Consejo General del Trabajo, along with families that use social work services, and politicians travelled together to Brussels to add their voices against the horrific affects that austerity has upon people and society. Speaking at the European Parliament they provided firsthand accounts of how austerity undermines basic human rights.

Since austerity was introduced Spain has tumbled into enormous social and economic problems with unemployment levels increasing daily over 35% and youth unemployment over 50%. Family evictions from their homes; cuts to electrical and power services, the closure of medical and social services, occur across all the communities of Spain. The human costs are nothing less than tragic. A new phenomena of middle aged men committing suicide has developed, as the men feel unable to provide for their families. It is now commonplace to see families living on the street without dignity and hope.

IFSW represents social workers practitioners globally and has learnt what policies enable people and societies to rise with confidence and sustainability, and what policies drive peoples and economies into a spiral of desperation. There is now mounting evidence demonstrating that investing in people and social services builds better economies. Researchers from Oxford and Stanford Universities have shown that for every dollar spent on social services there is a three-dollar return to the economy, and importantly people live happily and more securely knowing that their society cares.

Mr J. Andres Lopez Herrero whose family relies on the dwindling social work services accompanied his social worker to the meeting – he said, “We are waiting, waiting, and waiting and we are seeing that there is not any interest in solving anything. I would like to see the governor of my region live only one month with the budget that I have, only one month to know if she can survive”.

Ana Isabel Lima Fernandez, President of the Consejo General del Trabajo said, “We are here because we have applied the five indicators of United Nations to detect vulnerability of Human Rights and we need to denounce the breaching of human basic rights we live in Spain. We ask the European Parliament to make effective the international laws and rules such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Dr Rory Truell, IFSW Secretary-General said, “Austerity equals the abuse of human rights. We applaud the Consejo General del Trabajo for bringing together people who use social work services, along with social workers and politicians to highlight the problems in Brussels. Austerity is a flawed theory that is forced upon poor countries by wealthy institutions. USA in its financial crisis responded with economic stimulus packages – while Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and other countries are forced to cut services. There seems to be one approach for the powerful nations and another approach for non-powerful. This campaign is an inspiring example of social work and community action. It gives people a place to stand with others, a place to voice their anger, and it gives hope for their futures”, he said.

IFSW Global President, Ruth Stark said, “Human rights are achieved when all people experience dignity and respect from their fellow citizens, including the people who have been elected by them to take on roles of governance of their societies. Listening to the people that use social work services makes it clear that the European Parliament must take immediate action now”.

Public Policy: Isolation, Poverty and Marginalization of Seniors

Homeless counts in B.C. are seeing increasing numbers and housing insecurity for our elders too. 

Older People Living Alone with Dementia
Fisher, A. (2014). Social Work Helper. Retrieved from:

We are having a conversation, social worker to social worker, about the older constituents and clients who we each try to help. She works in a small senior center, and I work in the district office of a New York State Senator. I believe it is those of us on the front line of senior issues in our city who see first-hand the breadth and depth of the ever-growing population of older adults who are left to their own resources to navigate the complexities of life in this large urban city. So many are suffering from some form of mental illness, most often dementia. They are only one step away from winding up in a shelter system where they do not belong. To most people, they are invisible.
Sounding frustrated, she says,”They just keep coming”. I reply, “And they are all mentally ill or in some phase of dementia, right?” “Absolutely, she replies, “either that or they are broke…or, more likely, both.”
And yet, over the past several years, with a very heavy heart, I have had to refer elderly people to our city’s shelter system.This comes only after exhausting my own resources to find them even just a bed for the night. Programs that once offered temporary emergency shelter are full. One program director told me, “Clients used to come in and stay for a few weeks or a few months until they could find permanent accommodations. Now they seem to stay forever, and we very rarely have even a single bed available.”

Add to this the fact that these are people who have no social support network. They have no children or are estranged from their children, their friends have all died; and in some cases they have physical and/or mental limitations, that keep them isolated. These constituents are not anomalies, they are part of a cohort of seniors and elderly community members who come into or call our office every day. One day a young staffer said to me, “Wow, all seniors are mentally ill”. My answer was “No, not all seniors are mentally ill, only the ones that come to see us.”

The older adult that seeks our assistance comes with a legitimate presenting problem; i.e. my landlord is harassing me, someone is coming into my apartment when I’m not home, I’m not getting my food stamps or SSI credits. It is only when I sit down to talk with the constituent, whether in person or by phone, that I very soon realize that the presenting issue is just one piece of a much larger problem. When I make the decision that the constituent’s issues are not appropriate for a legislative office, I then refer the constituent to a senior service agency. It is my hope that the agency will be able to assign her to a case worker who can holistically see the entire picture and assist her in getting the help she needs.

While we need the many extraordinary social workers who are dedicated to helping these constituents with direct service, I can’t help wondering why we are having such an influx of older adults with mental health issues. It is only when we can answer that question that an effective solution can be found…or perhaps legislation can be written…to ameliorate the situation. As a macro social worker, this is my job.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Media: Troubled Children Film Screening - Vancouver

Troubled Children
(Kinderen met kopzorgen)

Date: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 - 7:30pm
Netherlands 2013. Director: Ingeborg Jansen. 60 min. Blu-ray Disc

VANCOUVER PREMIERE! Gebraiel is a sweet-natured little boy who doesn’t show much emotion and won’t look you in the eye when you speak to him. His worried mother has brought him to Riagg Rijnmond, the Dutch Youth Mental Health Centre in Rotterdam, for an assessment. That some of the patients at the Riagg are still in preschool gives added significance to the work that goes on there. 

Bolstered by seemingly endless cups of coffee, child and adolescent therapists meet daily with troubled children and their parents, providing assessment, counselling, and therapy for concerns ranging from ADHD and autism to trauma and anxiety disorders. This intimate, sensitive documentary, filmed cinema-vérité style, limns without sentimentality the daily routine at Riagg Rijnmond, where all victories are hard-won and well-fought.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Post-screening discussion with Dr. Charlotte Johnston, a professor and the Director of Clinical Training in the Clinical Psychology Program in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Johnston’s research focuses on families of children with ADHD or disruptive disorders, with a particular focus on how these problems impact parent-child interactions.

Moderated by Dr. Harry Karlinsky, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Professional Development: Nidus Personal Planning Webinars

Nidus Personal Planning Webinars

Visit the website to register:

Nidus offers free monthly webinars about the legal documents available in BC for personal planning.

The webinars provide general information for seniors and others who work with and support seniors as unpaid caregivers, community organizations, legal professionals, health care providers, financial planners and government agencies.

Webinars are viewed online using a computer or mobile device with audio capability—be sure your speakers and volume are turned on. You can watch the presentations individually or as a group. There will be time at the end for Q&A.

Organizations, please note: We use the Citrix GoToWebinar platform for online presentations. You will be required to download a small secure program onto your computer in order to view and hear the webinars. After you register, you will receive an email about the system requirements. Please check with your IT department if you are having difficulty as they may need to exempt the program from firewall settings.

Personal Planning Webinars:

Focus on our four life areas and how putting a plan in place and creating these documents affect our self-determination as we age and provide peace-of-mind for family and friends.
Representation Agreement, Advance Directive, and informal tools such as the living will/advance care plan

Enduring Power of Attorney, Representation Agreement

Registry Webinars:

An online registry service for storing personal planning documents. These webinars give a tour of the registry, its function and features.

Registering your planning documents & more

Learn more about Nidus

The Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre is a non-profit, charitable organization and was incorporated in 1995 as the Representation Agreement Resource Centre (RARC).

Nidus is currently the only community-based resource in Canada devoted to personal planning. Its existence sets British Columbia apart as a leader in addressing the critical needs of an aging population.

Nidus is the expert on Representation Agreements, which are a legal model for supported decision making.  B.C.’s Representation Agreement Act inspired Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (2008) which calls on governments to implement legislation that ensures all adults receive support with decision making without the need to take away or restrict their rights. The Convention has been ratified by Canada.

Nidus serves the entire province of British Columbia and is located in Vancouver.

Nidus provides
  • public legal education on personal planning and related matters.
  • training for volunteers and groups.
  • problem solving and coaching in support of best practices for attorneys, representatives and monitors.
  • policy consultation for third parties.
Nidus also operates a centralized Registry for personal planning documents in partnership with Juricert Inc. of the Law Society of British Columbia.

Nidus relies on donations and modest fees for services. Over the years, Nidus has received funding from a variety of sources for specific projects. See the Funders Section of the website for information on project funders past and present. Nidus is currently making efforts to establish core funding to provide security for the Resource Centre’s future.

To learn more visit: