Helping Youth in Care
This Office was contacted by a youth residing at the Wood Street Centre Campus. The complainant alleged that several attempts were made to contact their Caseworker, but there was no response. An attempt was made to escalate the matter to the Caseworker Supervisor but was met with similar results. When an Ombudsman Representative followed-up with the complainant, it was determined that the resident had been trying to contact their social worker for over 20 days. The complainant was concerned that they were unprepared for an upcoming case conference and was nervous about their future placement. The Ombudsman Representative reached out to the Manager responsible for the Caseworker and the Casework Supervisor. Eventually through communicating with the Manager, the Ombudsman Representative determined several concerns with communication practices. Wood Street staff were leaving messages on the Caseworker’s voicemail despite a message indicating that the worker was on leave and there was no alternative contact person offered. This was not communicated to the resident. Further, it was determined that the Caseworker, after returning to work, had a backlog of voicemails. The Manager made plans to address the workers caseload and how caseloads are managed when backlogs occur.
The Ombudsman Representative also contacted the Program Manager for Wood Street Centre Campus. After discussing the concerns with the Program Manager, meetings were held with staff to address the communication problems and the practice of addressing “away messages” and not passing information along to residents attempting contact with caseworkers. The Program Manager and Department of Community Services staff involved also discussed the issue around communication between their agencies to prepare for and prevent future communication challenges and barriers.