A performance audit of the Family Support and Social Services Department under the Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services, revealed that social workers on the average handle a caseload of 76 cases.
The performance audit, conducted by the Auditor General's office and released on Sunday, found that social workers could not thoroughly assess cases due to the strenuous workload assigned to them.
According to the audit report, the number of child-related cases reported to the ministry has continued to increase since 2017. However, the report highlighted a shortage of technical staff and noted challenges in employing new staff.
The family support and social services department currently consists of 16 caseworkers and one supervisor.
Highlighting that a total of 80 social workers cater to a resident population of roughly 500,000 people across the Maldives, the report called attention to gross inadequacies in responding to cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse as a result. Out of a total of 80 social workers, 30 are based in capital city Male'.
Of the 15 caseworkers surveyed for the audit, 86 percent claimed that they were so overworked, they often ha to time to focus on themselves.
The report also proposed measures to address challenges faced by caseworkers in a timely manner, including policy-level reforms to address shortages in technical staff and increase the department's capacity to better handle cases.
The report further recommended conducting relevant programmes aimed at improving the psychological well-being of caseworkers.