Nov 22, 2022 Letters
Permit me space in your newspaper to make a point for the frontline Social Care Workers to be recognised in the special group or category of workers that are being considered for special salary adjustments. Frontline Social Care Workers, and I am particularly referring to Child Protection Officers & Probation & Social Services Officers. Yes, these two groups are deserving groups, and both must be considered.
However, as for me who has lived experiences as a leader in both of the groups, I have to single out the Child Protection Officers for special mention. This is still a relatively new group of social workers in Guyana’s history and their clients are children, the most vulnerable, but the job entails working with the family. Child Protection work is very challenging with voluminous reports to respond to with insufficient resources and supports. Officers daily have to put up with negative responses when intervening to protect children and, along with this, there is ongoing media criticism of the Agency for not doing enough and failing. However, this is not unique to Guyana, it is normal territory for child protection officers anywhere in the world.
Child Protection work, with no doubt, is demanding and there is no room for lapses, but the remuneration here in Guyana is not encouraging and more so now with new graduates with the master’s level of qualification in Social Work. They are leaving for more lucrative positions in other fields. There are workforce issues in Child Protection Services, and steps must be taken to address these, I am devoting personal time to research what it takes to build a strong workforce in Human Services. However, for now, attention needs to be given to the salary. Workers who, over time, have gained higher qualifications should earn more to encourage them to stay and decrease the frequent turnover of staff. Being able to do this will be good for the delivery of the service, which is relationship-service – the building of empathetic, caring, and compassionate relationships. Without these, there would be no effective interventions, treatment, therapy and client’s personal change and development.
The public service appraisal system must be able to determine who are the effective workers and have the capability to be able to retain these officers. Since the productive capacity, as was described above, is heavily concentrated in “human capital,” which represents the knowledge, attitudes, and skills of employees, developed overtime, and cannot be easily transferred to others. However, I must emphasize here for the officers, that it is not just getting higher degrees – master’s or whatever. This only means you are certified, but who says you are qualified. You become qualified when you develop those special qualities identified for the relationship service and passion must be one of your personal values.
Those who wish to be top officers/managers must either come to the job with requisite skills and experience to deliver on the principles highlighted and/or are self-reflective and humble enough to acquire and further develop these necessary skills, for the benefit of improving the service delivery. Notwithstanding all that was said, there must be workforce incentive, so I am humbly pleading, to the President of Guyana, the Hon. Dr. Irfaan Ali, the case for Child Protection Officers & Probation & Social Services Officers to be recognized in the category of frontline workers to be considered for the special salary adjustment.
Retired Chief Probation & Social Service Officer, 2005
Former Head of Childcare & Protection Agency
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