• Supporting New Workers in a Child Welfare Agency: An Exploratory Study

      Csiernik, Rick; Smith, Carrie; Dewar, Jennifer; Dromgole, Laura; O'Neill, Arlene (Taylor and Francis, 2010-08-05)
      It takes upwards of two years for a child protection worker to fully develop the necessary knowledge, skills, abilities and dispositions to work independently. Previous studies have shown child protection workers have high levels of stress and it is not uncommon for turn over rates to be high in child welfare. One factor that has been purported to mediate workplace stress is social support provided by peers and more experienced colleagues. This led the Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex to develop a social support group for new child protection workers. Thirteen of twenty child protection workers hired between April and August 2008 participated in an eight session social support group that ran over six months and was led by two senior non-supervisory workers. Topics discussed included preparing and interacting in the court room, healthy stress management, managing work/home life, positive interactions/interventions, self care, staff interactions and effective use of supervision. During the course of the study participants reported experiencing a range of stressful critical incidents inside and outside of work including perceptions of being verbally harassed and threatened that in turn led to a range of psychosocial issues which affected their wellness. Participants reported a small though statistically insignificant decrease in hopefulness and social supports over the course of the study. However, they also indicated that the new worker support group was a valuable additional resource to the social supports they used to deal with the workplace generated stress they experienced.