The work of child and youth services caseworkers is born of a noble and passionate desire to help others. It is also one of the most important, yet challenging professions that one could choose. Formal education and training doesn’t always provide a clear picture of what awaits the workers when they enter the field. The eagerness of pursuing their passion and making a difference provides fuel to rationalize potential concerns about what lies ahead.
By the time a family becomes known to the agency, they have typically already faced significant trauma. They may be lacking the supports needed to sustainably function and thrive. More often than not, they are struggling with poverty, racism, addiction or mental health issues. It is the job of the caseworker to create care plans that will strengthen the family to keep them safely together. Caseworkers may be doing this critical work for twenty or thirty families at a time. Maybe more.
While most of these issues have long been present in child and youth services, they have been further compounded by a global pandemic. Even the most dedicated workers find the challenges of this work and their own personal needs weighing on them. As a result, child and youth services agencies around the world are increasingly faced with troubling workforce issues including retention, vacancies, and secondary trauma. Some agencies report vacancies as high as 50%. This has significant workload impacts on workers and introduces safety and compliance risks.
The Goal: A Resilient Workforce
The concept of workforce resiliency is centred in creating an environment for workers to thrive. Creating an industry that attracts the right people and then keeps them there is critical to the mission of child and youth services. There are a variety of ways in which an organization might do that including improved recruitment and training practices, increasing compensation structures, and adding additional workers. All of these things should be pursued, but they all take time.
The Solution: Enabling Technologies
Another important consideration in achieving resiliency is the availability of modern systems of engagement. These solutions can be implemented quickly and cost effectively and integrated seamlessly with legacy systems. Whether it is investigating allegations, performing assessments, or documenting visits, these solutions offer immediate value. Through the use of enabling tools, caseworkers will feel a decreased administrative burden, peace of mind regarding compliance, and empowerment to more effectively serve clients.
Diona has created a suite of solutions specifically for child and youth services with intentionality around feature design. Our solutions provide “in the moment” access to information when and where it is needed. These solutions increase the time that a caseworker can spend with clients and reduce time spent on administrative activities. These systems of engagement also improve data quality and compliance adherence. Most importantly, they allow caseworkers to do what they love most – help families.
Caseworkers are a dedicated and loyal group of people who are committed to carry the burdens and joy of service to others. Equipping them with the tools they need to do their jobs effectively will directly impact resiliency in a challenging job. Ultimately, the investment an agency makes in nurturing healthy and happy caseworkers, will have positive impact on the success of the families in care.