Letter to Editor
The Department of Social Services is an unhealthy, dysfunctional organization. The managerial team seems completely overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation and have respondent with indifference. Morale has plummeted and the level of dissatisfaction is increasing. Caseloads are unmanageably high and management’s approach seems outdated and they appear unable to arrest the current downward spiral of the Department. The traditional response has been to suppress and control any attempts by the staff to have their matters addressed and cries of dissatisfaction are usually met with resistance and resentment. Unfortunately, while this approach has allowed the current regime to maintain their powerbase, it has impeded the progress of this organization and prevents the infusion of new and progressive ideas. Instead there has been a consistent recycling and repackaging of the same outdated ideas which have yield less than satisfactory results.
Social work is ever evolving, there are new techniques and schools of thought that can greatly improve the quality of care which the Department delivers, but the staff are not exposed to those concepts. Clients are given band aid care because officers do not have the time or resources to give restorative care as case loads are too high, resulting in frustrated clients and worn out social workers. Therefore Social Services has become a revolving door for some persons, with insufficient help being rendered to address the cycle of poverty and dysfunction within some families. A great many cases are dealt with at a crisis level and there are just too few social workers to properly manage the cases being reported.
The reality is, far too many government agencies operate in a chaotic manner rather than dealing with problems and coming up with workable solutions. Case in point, where is the Department’s plan of action and research on the social climate so that the government can intelligently respond to the changing needs of Bahamians. If such mechanisms are not in place, how reliable is the data given to Parliament, are the decisions being made based on fact or mere emotions and assumptions? Proper forecast would also allow management to determine their human resource needs allowing them to assess the growth and future development needs of the organization. This could lead to more manageable case loads, more healing and empowerment for clients and lower the stress level of employees thereby increasing their level of satisfaction and contentment.
Not only is there no exchange of new ideas those at the top seem to have lost their passion for the profession and are simply going through the motions. Another serious concern is that most of the managerial team will age out around the same time, creating a dilemma as sufficient effort has not been spent training and developing younger officers. One wonders if this is a self preserving strategy aimed at extending their time, thereby allowing them to return as consultants. Some senior staff members have also been denied well earned positions so they see nothing wrong with forestalling the careers of younger workers, after all their prospects are limited and time and age will not allow them to advance further up the ranks. The end results, increased resentment, abuse of authority in a misguided attempt to hide the truth that this Department is in need of guidance and direction.
A Concerned Bahamian