Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Celebrating Social Workers: Social Work Week in B

Social Work Week honours those who serve B.C.’s most vulnerable

B.C. Government (March 12, 2017). 

Honouring those who serve BC's most vulnerable. 

March 12-18 is Social Work Week in BC - a time to honour their hard work & courage. More than 2,500 social workers in BC strive to do their best and think outside the box to make a lasting difference in the lives of children and families.

Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux has issued the following statement in recognition of Social Work Week in British Columbia, March 12-18, 2017:
“This is Social Work Week in B.C. and National Social Work Month, a time to recognize and honour the courage shown each day by MCFD social workers, clinicians and other front-line staff who have some of the toughest jobs in the province – supporting and protecting vulnerable families and children.
“ ‘One person can make a difference and everyone should try.’ That quote from former United States president John F. Kennedy is a fitting one to describe what social workers do each and every day. During difficult circumstances they strive to do their best and think outside the box to make a lasting difference in the lives of children and families. 
“The work of social workers can make headlines when things do not go well. Unfortunately, they often do not get recognition for all of the amazing things they help their clients achieve on a daily basis.
“During social worker week, it’s my pleasure to shine a light on some of their efforts and triumphs. Stories like Karen Zilke’s, a Vancouver social worker who recently won an award from the charity Children of the Street, for her work helping sexually exploited youth in a unique partnership with the Vancouver Police in the Downtown East Side. Read Karen’s story here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/14147
“She is just one of the more than 2,500 social workers in B.C. who make a difference by giving families a sense of hope. Social workers by their very nature are adaptable and creative thinkers. They have to be. There is no one size fits solutions in their line of work. What they often need most is more time.
“So to help social workers and other front-line staff do their jobs, we’re putting extra supports in place. This includes hiring more administrative staff so social workers can spend less time doing paperwork and answering phones and more time working directly with families.  
We’re also providing pay incentives to attract front-line staff to hard-to-recruit communities. Ministry social workers in designated rural or remote regions will receive an additional $3,000 to $6,000 per year.
“My sincerest appreciation goes out to social workers this week and throughout the year. On behalf of the Province and all British Columbians, thank you for doing the work you do every day and for making a difference.”    
To read the 2017 Social Work Week Proclamation, please visit: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/proclamations/proclamations/SocWrkWk2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Social Work Registration in Manitoba: Complaints and Loopholes

Social worker regulatory college heard 9 complaints in 1st year

Concerns persist over some workers not being required to register with the college

In its first year of operations, the Manitoba College of Social Workers fielded nine complaints of unprofessional conduct against social workers.
Of the nine complaints outlined in the college's annual report for 2015-16, two resulted in action taken by the complaints committee involving the social worker.
College registrar Barb Temmerman told CBC News that one case dealt with concerns about a social worker's terms of service and fee schedule, as well as the social worker's level of supervision.
The complaints committee entered into an agreement establishing a formal service contract and fee schedule for the social worker, the report said. It also said that agreement was on hold pending the complainants' appeal to the board of directors.
A second case was about concerns regarding the level of skill and knowledge a social worker applied in planning an intervention with a client. The report said the committee was satisfied the social worker had addressed the concerns through actions such as additional training and supervision.
The remainder of the nine complaints included two that were not yet concluded, two that were dismissed and one in which the complainant's information was incomplete, the report said.
In two other cases, the complaints committee did not have jurisdiction to investigate because the practitioners were not registered social workers at the time of the alleged unprofessional conduct.
The issue of who is required to register with the college has been controversial. The Social Work Profession Act came into force April 1, 2015 requiring anyone who uses the job title "social worker" to register with the college.
There are now more than 2,100 social workers registered with the college — up from about 1,100 members under the Manitoba Institute of Registered Social Workers, the voluntary regulatory body that preceded the college.
But Temmerman said there are still an unknown number of practitioners who do social work for the provincial government but who are not being required to register with the college. She said that's because the former NDP government made a decision to exempt those workers.
"We know that right now the public is confused about who is a social worker and who is required to be registered," Temmerman said. She said the college wants the current government to amend the Social Work Profession Act to make it clear anyone who practices in the field will have to register, whether or not their job title is social worker.
"It's about public accountability and the public interest," said Temmerman.
It was also a key recommendation in 2014 by retired judge Ted Hughes from the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry that looked into the death of the five-year-old girl. Phoenix Sinclair was killed by her mother and her mother's boyfriend despite the child's involvement with the Child and Family Services system.
Hughes found that 27 social workers and supervisors played a role in relation to Phoenix's family during her life.
He recommended that anyone who practices social work, whatever their job title, be registered by the college.  
"I still feel very much the same way," Hughes said from his home in British Columbia. "If they're doing social work — and that would include providing the care and oversight and attention to children that are the government's responsibility... they should be registered with the college and subject to the college's process for complaint and discipline."
"It's a serious matter because there are people taking charge of those kids that are in government care who aren't subject to the regulations of the college," he said.
"It's wrong, it's inept," he said.
The minister responsible for the Social Work Profession Act, Scott Fielding, said his government hasn't made a decision yet on amending the law.
"It's something we would always be open to considering," he said. "We'll have to have discussions with them and other stakeholders before we make any decisions on that."
"We do want to listen to what they say and how the current legislation is handled," said Fielding.
Temmerman said under the circumstances, there is still a need for members of the public to ask whether the person they may be receiving social work services from is indeed registered.
"They have every right to ask that person, 'Are you registered with the college'?  'Who am I receiving services from?' I'm not sure that the public knows to ask that question right now."
For the complaints that have been received so far by the college, the complaints committee report provides almost no detail about what happened in each case.
The cases have not been grievous enough to warrant censure of the social worker or be sent for a formal hearing to the college's inquiry committee, Temmerman said. 
Temmerman said the legislation provides guidance on what information can be made public, but the college's board will consider whether it needs a specific policy on publishing the findings related to complaints and discipline.
Temmerman said she's pleased with what the college has been able to accomplish since its beginning in April 2015.
"We're making steps forward and every step is worth taking," Temmerman said.