According to NAPE President Carol Furlong, social workers with the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) in the St. John’s region are upset because they are being placed on stand-by to staff Alternate Living Arrangements (ALAs) in addition to their regular emergency standby on-call. This means they are now on two separate stand-by lists.

“The situation has become untenable,” said Furlong. “To exacerbate the situation, the schedule for the ALA on-call was only released late Monday afternoon. Many social workers are upset because they may have to change their scheduled plans for the Christmas holidays on very short notice.”

An ALA is a staffed living arrangement that is used to satisfy the demand for temporary placements for children at risk who are placed in the care of the Department while efforts are being made to secure approved caregiver homes (such as foster care). ALAs can also be used for children waiting for placement in a group home or an out-of-province treatment facility.

According to Furlong, “Being placed on the ALA stand-by list means that, in addition to their regular highly demanding workloads, social workers are required to be available to work in ALAs to care for children as well as perform household chores.”

“Being a social worker is a difficult and demanding job at the best of times,” stated Furlong. “It is one thing for social workers to be on-call for emergency situations. It is quite another to place them on a second list which requires them to basically baby sit and do housework. To do so the week of Christmas when most have already made plans, is totally unacceptable and shows a complete lack of sensitivity to social workers.”

“NAPE has expressed concerns to the Department about the use of social workers to support ALAs in addition to their regular shifts and duties. This situation is exacerbated during certain times of the year, such as during the Christmas holidays. The Department has said that improvements are coming but we have yet to see any change whatsoever,” said Furlong. “NAPE is calling on the Department to show a greater level of respect for social workers. In addition, we are asking for a long-term solution to this crisis which will both provide stability to the children involved as well as free social workers up to focus on their primary duties. The Department must consult with the front-line workers in order to achieve this goal. Currently that is not happening.”

For further information please contact:
Keith Dunne, NAPE Campaigns and Communications Coordinator
(phone) 709.570.2501 (e-mail)