The organization representing social workers in B.C. is defending its members, two weeks after a scathing report was released into the life and death of a 19-year-old aboriginal woman named Paige.
Dianne Heath, the president of the B.C. Association of Social Workers, says she fears her members have been misjudged.
The report, from B.C.’s children’s watchdog, accused social workers, healthcare workers, police and others of indifference and inaction in the case of Paige.
The young woman, born to a drug-addicted teen mother, went to the ER herself multiple times for overdoses, spent time in prison, and never got glasses, even though she was legally blind. She died in 2013 in a park in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Heath says indifference is not what most social workers feel.
“I see them frustrated, fatigued, discouraged, unsure. I don’t see them indifferent. And sometimes compassion fatigue can look like indifference when you just get so exhausted.”
Heath says two of their biggest hurdles are a lack of funding and a lack of staff, adding their hearts break when they can’t do what they need to help a child.