Social workers specializing in child protection are being seriously exploited, lawmakers and social groups said yesterday.
Social workers involved in protecting children from abuse face heavy workloads and long working hours and cannot protect themselves from danger, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) said.
Many social workers are hired as part-time or temporary workers and earn minimal pay, while those employed by the government are asked by local authorities to perform tasks unrelated to their main job, said Wang, a former CEO of the Child Welfare League Foundation.
Wang released a ranking showing the 10 counties and cities in Taiwan with the lowest ratio of children to social workers who are working on child abuse cases. Hualien County topped the list, with only one social worker per 256 cases, followed by Taitung and Yilan counties.
Eva Teng (滕西華), president of the Taipei Association of Licensed Social Workers, accused local authorities of late payment to social workers, saying one-third of the counties and cities listed still owed wages, adding that she was angry that social workers are hired as part-time or temporary workers.
“Can social welfare and sexual assault prevention work be handed to part-time workers?” she asked.
Wang also urged the ministry to hand the management of social workers to the central government, rather than local governments, and asked the Council of Labor Affairs to bolster inspections of social workers’ employment conditions.
In response, Chen Su-chun (陳素春), deputy director of the ministry’s Department of Social Affairs, said her department would strive to provide the information.
Child Welfare Bureau Director-General Chang Hsiu-yuan (張秀鴛) said her agency would increase the number of social workers each year and would make hiring social workers involved in protecting children its first priority.