Child, Youth and Family employees are overworked and
understaffed, and its operating model needs an overhaul after
years of increasing workloads, a review into the agency has
The report, commissioned by the Ministry of Social
Development (MSD) last year, was carried out by the Chief
Social Worker with involvement from the Public Service
CYF has dealt with a six-fold increase in its reported number
of notifications over the past 15 years, the report said.
The agency needed to review the caseloads of a number of
social workers, and to investigate ways to reduce social
workers' administration and desk time, it said.
"Ultimately, to consistently deliver quality work, Child,
Youth and Family will need to consider increasing the number
of frontline care and protection social workers available for
the most vulnerable children and young people, and reducing
the work they are currently managing."
Social Welfare Minister Paula Bennett told reporters it was
one of the "most in depth pieces of work" she had seen on the
department, and she welcomed it.
"It means we can have a really honest view about where we're
at, where we're going and what we need to do next."
The recommendations raised a number of issues with the
department, Ms Bennett said.
"Yes they will need more social workers, we just need to make
sure we're getting the right ones with the right caseloads,
in the right place."
MSD chief executive Brendan Boyle said the review was an
honest and thorough analysis of the day-to-day reality for
frontline social workers.
"Put simply, we've found that some of our social workers have
too much on their plates, and this has gotten in the way of
the most important part of their work -- spending time with
children and families."
Work was already under way to alleviate the pressure on those
with caseloads that were deemed unmanageable.
PSA national secretary Brenda Pilott was pleased that the
"unrealistic caseloads" faced by significant numbers of CYF
social workers were recognised, and that the report proposed
an early start in addressing the heaviest workloads.
"Political parties must prioritise extra funding in next
year's Budget for CYF to hire much needed social workers, and
for other agencies who'll pick up some of this work," she
Labour Party children's spokeswoman Jacinda Adern said the
report showed that CYF work with vulnerable children had been
put at risk through heavy caseloads.
" ... while CYFs' social workers are doing their best to
respond to increasingly complex cases, the quality of their
work is being compromised by the workloads they face.
"It confirms social workers are over-loaded and unable to
focus their time and energy on the kids they are tasked with
protecting," Ms Adern said.
"While Ms Bennett has repeatedly claimed it is impossible to
work to a figure when determining whether a social worker is
being stretched too far, this review proves otherwise."
More report findings:
* CYF data and information systems needed to be modernised
and simplified, to better project workloads and future
* it commended the agency for meeting time requirements for
assessing between 95 and 99 per cent of its notifications;
* However, it said this came at a cost of other aspects of
quality practice; and
* CYF operating model would need to be re-designed to support
the action plan, to align with contemporary needs and risks,
and to promote the delivery of quality social work practice.