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Restructure paying off

CAPTION: The Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki Masterton’s site manager Miriama Henderson says the office has been restructured. PHOTO/FILE

By Beckie Wilson

[email protected]

Families who felt dissatisfied with Masterton’s former Child, Youth and Family (CYF) office filed 38 complaints over a two-year period.

This is at least one a month over the two-year-and-three-month period, according to figures recently released to the Times-Age under the Official Information Act.

The high number of complaints for the regional site reflected on-going issues at the office over that period, the newly appointed Masterton site manager Miriama Henderson said.

In recent months, The Times-Age has reported on the office’s staffing shortages which had resulted in high volumes of open cases that needed attention.

The lack of staff put pressure on other community services and family lawyers.

There was a total of 182 open cases over the three-month period ending December 2016.

But due to critically low staffing numbers across various roles including senior practitioner, social worker and supervisor, the social worker to open cases ratio was high.

There was an average of seven social workers over the quarter ending in December last year, which works out to be about 30 open cases per social worker, according to the figures.

“The Masterton office has experienced staffing pressure for some time…. while these numbers are higher than we would like and partly reflect the staff shortages we’ve had, they have fallen with the additional people, supports and resources we have put in place,” Mrs Henderson said.

“The work load is complex to measure, it depends on the nature of children’s needs, the social worker’s experience and the supports in place.”

The Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki, was launched in April in the hopes of offering better support for the country’s children.

After the office’s restructure, more staff was employed and social workers work load has lessened.

In the first three months of this year, social workers numbers increased from five to 10, and open cases have  dropped.

There were about 17 open cases to each of the 10 social workers during March.

“While there is no magic figure, that ratio is not out of kilter with other sites, our focus is making sure we can provide the right support for our staff, and by working with other agencies,” Mrs Henderson said.

The office is trialling ways to relieve social workers of some administrative burden, enabling them to spend more time with children.

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