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Professional autonomy as a criterion for classification of social work tasks in a child welfare setting Carlton, Lois M.


This study developed from results obtained in a recent MSW thesis entitled, "Utilization of Manpower at Children’s Aid Society of Vancouver, B.C." by Adams, et. al. (U.B.C. School of Social Work, 1967). In the main, our assignment was to select and rank a wide range of tasks performed by agency staff in the field of child welfare. Using the Adams et. al. recommendation regarding "worker autonomy," we selected a panel of fifteen judges representing the three levels of employment - administrative, supervisory, and line worker, developed an adequate method of judging, and analysed the data. The Adams, et. al. study proved useful in our inquiry in providing clues to the various personal assignments we had set for our project group. The entire project covered a period of less than three months and because of this comparatively short research period, we resorted to simplified techniques of judging. We found a high percentage of agreement among the judges. This not only indicates that the tasks can be differentiated by social workers in the field of child welfare but also that the "forced choice" phase of the judging probably does not adversely affect reliability. Further, we suggested in the Adam's study, it would appear that "worker autonomy” can usefully be used as a criterion in ranking tasks in a child welfare agency.

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