A new study by Ben-Gurion University published recently, a year after the outbreak of the Coronavirus, highlights serious issues with Israel's social services. A spike in demand for services, coupled with worsening social and economic conditions, has left the social service sector depleted and social workers underpaid and overworked.
Social workers reported staff and service cuts, underpayment, uncompensated overtime work, as well as exposure to violence and harassment.
The study, led by researcher Dr. Talia Meital Schwartz-Tayri, showed that although the Coronavirus crisis has led to an increase in the number of people in need, social workers are unable to provide quality service due to insufficient resources, time constraints, and fatigue. 41% reported the closure of programs and projects, while only 3% reported the addition of manpower.
The research is based on a sample of 2,600 social workers employed in every category of welfare services, and was carried out from August to October 2020, after the first and second lockdowns.
While other countries, such as Canada, Scotland, and France, made policy changes to increase welfare services and define essential workers, in Israel, the Coronavirus caused unprecedented damage to welfare services and led to a drop in services. 54% of the research participants reported significant damage to the service in which they worked after the first lockdown and 18% a reduction in manpower.
One of the most difficult findings was that 12% of social workers in domestic violence prevention and child protective services reported a decrease in the service they work in, even after services resumed full time.
Dr. Schwartz-Tayri said, "One of the most difficult things I discovered was that some services did not reopen, even after a gradual return to normal, even when there was a dramatic increase in the number of applications and reports regarding helpless populations, leading to social workers carrying unreasonable loads. During such an unstable period, it's important for certain populations to have someone suitable they can turn to."
The Times of Israel