Survey: Social workers overworked, underpaid

“The grim results of the survey should set of an alarm among the Israeli leadership."

March 1, 2016 01:54
2 minute read.

Financial graph. (photo credit: INGIMAGE PHOTOS)

In the absence of adequate government funding for welfare initiatives, 85% of social workers are forced to rely on NGOs to provide assistance to people in need, according to a survey released by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

The survey was released ahead of World Social Work Day, observed annually in March, which will be marked at the Knesset on Tuesday at the initiative of the IFCJ, the Association of Social Workers, and former welfare minister, Deputy Knesset Chairman Meir Cohen.

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According to the findings, nearly two-thirds of social workers feel that the State does not provide enough resources to treat needy people turning to welfare offices.

The findings show that nearly 60% of social workers say that they are faced with a case at least once a week in which they are unable to provide optimal care due to their heavy workload.

“The grim results of the survey should set of an alarm among the Israeli leadership,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the IFCJ.

Eckstein explained that this was the first time a general survey was conducted among social workers who represent the State in areas facing the greatest hardships.

The survey was conducted by Geocartography Knowledge Group among 301 social workers working in a variety of fields.

“Their difficult feelings of abandonment and disrespect by the State and their significant reliance on donations are the primary symbols of the disintegration of the welfare system and social responsibility in Israel,” said Eckstein.

“The government and the Knesset must act quickly to strengthen the status of social workers and provide them with the necessary resources to carry out their jobs,” he said.

Cohen said the survey acts as a “cry from the field.”

“It sets before us the difficult reality as it actually is. The State is committed to social workers, primarily for the reason that they are its emissaries on the social economic front,” he said.

He called on all social workers to renew their struggle for better wages and for more State funding for welfare initiatives.

“Poverty is not a problem of the welfare [system], it is a national problem,” Cohen said.

The survey also found that 80% of social workers said they believe the State does not appreciate their work, and their low salaries reflect this.

The findings indicate that more than a third of social workers are forced to receive financial assistance from other sources. Furthermore, one out of every six social workers requires financial assistance and 13% of social workers are forced to work another job for financial support.

However, the survey found that despite the difficulties and the low wages, the majority of social workers, some 54%, would still recommend this line of work to their friends.

Safra Dweck, head of the Association of Social Workers said: “The findings of the survey confirm the sad and unfortunate reality in which social workers operate, and of which we have been warning for years.

“The fact that social workers continue to believe in the profession and would recommend working in it to their friends and families, allows the Treasury to continue to ignore the reality that does not allow for adequate assistance to populations in our care, and abuses social workers by providing unworthy salaries that force them to rely on family members and others,” she said.

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