Abstract: Social Workers in Romania: The Revitalization of the Profession (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

682P Social Workers in Romania: The Revitalization of the Profession

Sunday, January 19, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Elizabeth Lightfoot, PhD, Professor, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Saint Paul, MN
Florin Lazar, PhD, Senior Lecturer, University of Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania
Mihai Bogdan Iovu, PhD, Associate Professor, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Laszlo Csaba Degi, PhD, Associate Professor, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Background: While the social work profession has a long history in Romania, the communist government began dismantling the social welfare system after World War II and abolished social work education entirely in 1969. The field of social work was re-established in the 1990s after the fall of communism, with the first “new” social work students graduating in 1994. While the field has now been firmly reestablished, with numerous social work schools and a National College of Social Work (CNASR), there has been no national level research on the state of the social work profession. This presentation will provide results of the first national survey of the field of social work in Romania, whose purpose was to describe the composition of the social work workforce, the roles and tasks of social workers, the types of services they provide and the types of clients they serve. In additional purpose was to explore attrition, and this presentation will present results from an exploration of how age, gender, income, burnout and feelings of efficacy of Romanian social workers affected their plans to remain in the field or seek positions in another field.

Methods: The CNSAR conducted a national online survey of 1057 social workers in 2015 modeled on the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) survey of licensed social workers in the United States. CNSAR obtained permission from NASW to use the survey, and made appropriate modifications to the Romanian context and translated it to the Romanian language. The survey had 73 required items, including sections on demographics, education, employment, roles, tasks, services provided, work environment, satisfaction, stress and future plans. A stratified sampling strategy based on county size was used, with branch presidents of CNSAR distributing the survey throughout the country. Data and comparative analyses were used to explore demographic factors, and logistic regression was used to explore how demographics, burnout, self-efficacy and salary were correlated with social workers’ future plans.

Results: Romanian social workers skewed young (82.8% under age 45), female (86.4%) and from the Romanian ethnic group (91.2%). While Romania has a large rural population, social workers primarily practiced in urban areas (88.6%). Social workers worked in similar roles and tasks as social workers in the United States, and had fairly high levels of job satisfaction. However, over 20.5% of social workers indicated that they were considering leaving the field in the next two years. Those with higher income (OR=.702, p=.000) had 42% lower odds that they planned to leave the field within two years, while those with burnout had over twice the odds they planned to leave the field (OR=2.56, p=.000). Men also had higher odds than women (OR=1.81, p=.000) to be planning to leave the field.  

Conclusions: While Romanian social workers are highly educated and have fairly high levels of job satisfaction, over a fifth are planning to leave the field of social work within two years. Attention needs to be placed on retaining social workers, with a focus on raising income and addressing factors that affect burnout.