Published Thursday, 29 November 2012
Social workers are spending less than a third of time with clients. (© Getty)
The survey 'Social Work not Paperwork' also highlights that the rest of their time is taken up by excessive paperwork and red tape.
According to figures released by the Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW) the majority of social workers polled want to spend more time with children and families.
Instead they are left deskbound by the sheer volume of paperwork they have to navigate.
Three out of four social workers surveyed said they were already working between 20 to 60 extra hours a month due to an increase in demand for services and a reduction in admin staff.
Two thirds of the respondents said direct client contact accounted for less than 30% of their working week.
This survey highlights a profession under extreme pressure which is totally unacceptable. Our social workers want to see children and families more and to offer preventative and therapeutic work rather than spend their time sitting in front of a computer screen.
Carolyn Ewart, NIASW Manager
Commenting on the survey, NIASW Manager, Carolyn Ewart said: "It is not right that we have social workers, who really do want to help vulnerable people, sitting behind desks inputting data and writing reports rather than spending more time with children in need or at risk.
Ms Ewart added: "It is clear from the findings that to keep children safe social workers are putting in many hours of unpaid overtime. Many are going the extra mile for vulnerable families.
"With the first ever Social Work Strategy, which highlights bureaucracy as an issue, NIASW wants to work with the government and other agencies to implement the recommendations.
"NIASW are calling for effective measures to be put in place to reduce the level of bureaucracy and free up time to do social work not paperwork".
149 social workers responded to the survey, the majoriy of which were from Trust childcare settings. Family Intervention Team service accounted for the largest individual group to respond.