Tasha Whitley: Who will help us?

It’s 9AM and your to-do list is posted on your desk, ready to be executed.  You’ve had your morning coffee/tea and you are prepared to tackle your day.  Then you are bombarded with several phone calls, an emergency task that you had not anticipated, and you are assigned a new case (when you are already over capacity). Now what?

Most social service professionals (especially in the child welfare sector) have experienced this dilemma at least once.  I know I have encountered this issue multiple times.  We are often overwhelmed with the amount of duties we have to fulfill within an eight-hour timeframe.  We are challenged with having to perform several roles including being an advocate, mediator, broker, manager, and educator (to name a few).  In addition, we are required to accomplish numerous goals within finite time frames that are frequently unrealistic.  It is crucial as social workers that we provide our clients with a high level of service while ensuring that we adhere to the ethical standards of the profession.  However, it is at times difficult to effectively execute all of the duties that we are required to perform without neglecting some facet of our responsibilities.  This could mean that you are unable to finish that report that you intended to do or you can’t make it to dinner with your loved ones that are looking forward to seeing you. 

Providing relief to social workers during moments of intense stress is crucial to ensure our continued growth and development within the field.  I propose that more agencies incorporate the use of case aides to perform some of our essential tasks.  Gathering documents from collateral sources, contacting service providers, and updating case files can take time away from connecting with clients.  Having a case aide handle these matters could supply social workers with the support we need to continue to be change agents for our clients.  It may take time and additional funding to make this a reality but the lasting impact could enhance performance outcomes in a major way. 

As George C. Lichtenberg once said, “I can not say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.”

What do you think?