Wasted time, ignored expertise: Oranga Tamariki’s staff exodus

The number of social workers leaving Child, Youth and Family during the formation of Oranga Tamariki was largely down to the expertise of long-serving staff being ignored in the review process and a costly and wasteful Expert Advisory Panel (EAP) that failed generate new ideas or knowledge to address the real issues in service design and delivery, says the Public Service Association.

“It was hugely disempowering for experienced social workers to be largely excluded from the EAP process, especially after great recommendations had already been made through a PSA/CYF joint Work and Caseload review in 2014 that were essentially ignored,” says Glenn Barclay, PSA national secretary.

“Social workers at CYF have always been primarily concerned with the quality of services – not their own pay, not their conditions – and were disillusioned by the Government’s disinterest in their expertise.”

“Staff had persevered through years of underfunding, and had simply had enough when the Work and Caseload review’s recommendations were put on hold in favour of forming the EAP, which was much less concerned with the experience of frontline staff.”

“The Work and Caseload review made several thorough recommendations around resourcing and staff numbers, more face to face engagement with clients, and the overuse of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that they felt were compromising relationships with clients and genuine quality social work.”

“Currently, the PSA is working extremely hard to change the culture within the new Ministry and to ensure that any new resourcing is deployed where it’s most needed, and we are seeing some positive action within the new agency and have formed some good relationships with the new leadership team.”

“We maintain that the Work and Caseload review offered adept recommendations, and that we could be years ahead from where we are now if we had proceeded with the work to implement them back in 2014."

“We will continue to engage with Oranga Tamariki to guarantee that staff can keep providing great service for the tamaraki and whānau they work with on a daily basis.”