DCS launches peer support program to ease worker stress and reduce turnover
Phoenix (September 12, 2018)-
DCS caseworkers dedicate their lives to serving children and families in crisis.
But working with children who have experienced trauma can exact a significant emotional toll on a person.
That's why the department recently created one of the first in the nation peer support programs to assist social workers dealing with the emotional impact of the job.
"Our employees give everything, every day, to protect children and strengthen families,” said DCS Director Greg McKay. “But this work can tax a person emotionally, physically and spiritually if they don't take the time to take care of themselves. This program provides our workers with another layer of support so they can continue fighting for Arizona’s children.”
The Workforce Resilience Program was designed to counter the high-stress nature of social work, which can quickly lead to burnout and contribute to high employee turnover if it’s not addressed.
“Child welfare workers frequently experience secondary trauma as part of their daily routines,” said Jenny Bilskie, DCS’s Workforce Resilience Program Coordinator. “Often times, our workers don’t recognize how this trauma affects them until it’s too late, and they become overwhelmed.”
Developed by Bilskie, the Workforce Resilience Program is comprised of roughly 40 DCS employees, spread throughout the state, who have volunteered to help their colleagues cope with the day-to-day stress endemic to social work.
Although police departments, hospitals, and fire departments across the nation utilize peer support programs, the practice is uncommon in child welfare.
Bilskie felt it was time to close this gap and offer social workers a similar program.
“Our frontline workers deserve to feel supported in their work. And this program offers them a timely, supportive way to handle the unique stresses of their job,” said Bilskie.