More than a thousand social workers and social work students have issued a petition urging national and municipal policy makers to shoulder their responsibility and finally address the chronic lack of resources in child welfare.
“We signatories demand that you take responsibility for the operational preconditions of child welfare,” they state.
The signatories argue that policy makers and municipal officials have turned a blind eye to what is a widely recognised issue and express their concerns about the negligence of children and young people caused by the chronic under-resourcing of child welfare in several municipalities. One social worker, they highlight, may be responsible for 40, 60 or even 80 cases, even though a caseload of 40–50 is typically enough to make it difficult for social workers to work closely with the children.
“Employees have little means at their disposal to affect the operational preconditions of child welfare. Social workers try to perform their duties well, but they do not have the authority to make client numbers and working conditions more reasonable,” they write.
“Unfortunately there are no laws of yet that guarantee that under-age child welfare clients are protected and given the time and interaction [they require] by employees.”
The Regional State Administrative Agency for Eastern Finland in 2012 assessed that child welfare services are provided by unqualified and heavily overworked employees in several municipalities in Eastern Finland. In 2013, it concluded, as many as nine municipalities employed no social workers qualified for their position, while the caseload of a single social worker could be as high as 80–120, up to four times the recommended 30.
The Chancellor of Justice has similarly stated that child welfare resources are so scarce that the regional state administrative agencies and child welfare providers are struggling to perform their statutory duties.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi