Who cares?: the impact of neoliberal policies and new organizational methods on child and youth workers

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Altass, Patricia D.
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University of Guelph

Child and Youth Work is an emotionally demanding profession with an extremely high burnout rate. Previous research has shown that there are a variety of factors that contribute to high rates of burnout within this profession. This thesis begins by exploring topics related to stress; burnout, emotional labour and vicarious trauma, providing a context to understand the inherent issues and challenges faced by workers in this field. The prevailing beliefs and values underlying neoliberal policies resulting in funding restrictions, within the social services are then considered in relation to the impact of these policies on experienced levels of worker stress and burnout with the residential care field. Lastly, this thesis looks at the introduction of new organizational methods, specifically Total Quality Management and New Public Management, as strategies implemented by agencies to cope with funding limitations, and the resulting impact on levels of stress and burnout of front line residential child care workers. In addition to the three key areas of focus, the role and impact of unions within residential treatment settings is considered as a potential avenue for positive change within these workplaces.

Child and youth workers, Neoliberal policies, Organization, Stress, Burnout