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Social Workers are Incompetent
September 9, 2013 permalink
Do you think your social worker was incompetent? The child protection hotline in New South Wales Australia has proof. Half of the senior hotline workers applying for a promotion failed their own test. They remain on the job in spite of their incompetence.
Hotline supervisors failed test
Many caseworkers are employed as senior supervisors at the state's child protection hotline despite having failed the application process for the role.
Internal documents obtained by Fairfax Media show that seven of the 14 caseworkers who failed to achieve a pass when they applied for the role of team leader were already acting in the more senior position. It is understood that most of the caseworkers who failed the application assessment are still acting in the more senior roles.
The document, signed by Michelle Allan, the acting manager of the Child Protection Helpline, on May 9, shows that caseworkers deemed ''not successful'' scored marks of 11 to 15.5 out of 30. To pass they are required to get 16 out of 30.
The senior role involves leading teams of up to five caseworkers who answer calls to the hotline, which fields reports about children at risk of abuse and neglect. The team leader supervises the caseworkers and escalates the priority given to more serious complaints if child safety is at serious risk.
A former community services worker who has seen the documents said some of the people who failed the application process have continued to act in the supervisory roles. ''Normally if you don't pass the application process, you would get culled. In this case they were given another two tasks to try to get them over the line, but a lot of them did even worse in those,'' she said.
Opposition spokeswoman for family and community services Linda Burney said the department of community services was ''willing to do everything possible to fill those positions''. ''Instead of culling them if they fail, they were desperately trying to fill those senior caseworker positions with people who were clearly unsuitable,'' she said. ''That suggests a dangerous practice.''
A caseworker who works for the hotline said team leaders are supposed to provide caseworkers with support and guidance.
''People who clearly failed a recruitment process are being promoted,'' she said. ''Aside from it being unethical and setting them up for failure, it's outright dangerous and places the very people we are suppose to protect at risk. Why does management think this is OK? Does a child need to die for this practice to stop? My fear is that one day a team leader will incorrectly sign off one of [the] reports, and there will be a tragic consequence from some little child.''
The concerns about the recruitment process at the child protection hotline follow those about a shortage of caseworkers in NSW. The caseworker said she and her colleagues had been asked to do more overtime in the lead-up to a visit by a newspaper to the child protection hotline office.
Chief executive of Family and Community Services Maree Walk said the offer for overtime was co-incidental. She said overtime was frequently used to ensure child protection reports were inputted into the computer system.
Ms Walk said the assessment test was used to identify where caseworkers needed support. ''This test helps us work out where people need further support and development because the team leader role has a number of facets. The 16 out of 30 tells us they need further development.''
Ms Walk said everyone who was assessed and needed to improve their skills had completed additional tasks. "Those whose performance has not improved are not acting in the team leader role," she said.
Community Services Minister Pru Goward has been accused of misleading Parliament over the number of caseworkers. She consistently said there are about 2000 or more caseworkers in the system, despite her office receiving a review by Ernst and Young showing there were about 300 fewer.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald