Social work challenges

Sep 18, 2013 by

Social Work

It’s come to my attention that a survey done by the British Association of Social Workers threw up some startling facts concerning Serious Case Reviews. Only 25% of respondents always get to read them, 67% say they only sometimes get to read the recommendations, 97% said that they would like all serious case reviews conducted in the country to be centralised.

This would be extremely useful for both access and training purposes. It’s surely not beyond the bounds of credibility that these investigations and enquires which are always quoted as great opportunities for learning and development haven’t been used more widely as a tool and a resource for training those very agencies that are frequently accused of failing. On the other hand it’s not surprising that many professionals have not got the time to absorb the impact of these reports as they’re up to their neck with highly pressurised work and over sized case loads.

Another factor is that it always seems to be one of the recommendations that there wasn’t enough communication between agencies when a child dies or is badly hurt. This is very true, but I think there is a case to be made that with the public service cuts biting deeply, most departments have had to reshuffle personnel or comprehensively restructure the department. The natural outcome of this is that the people in posts who are meant to be talking to each other and sharing crucial information more often than not don’t know each other and have never met. It’s difficult to form a good working relationship in such a sensitive area with complete strangers – however hard you try.

A higher priority of child protection, as promised yesterday by Edward Timpson the Minister for Children, has to include a higher priority for resources, therefore greater stability of professional relationships as well as a reduction in front line workers’ caseloads. If you want increased child safety there has to be a national price to pay. Improve training – yes, continue to recruit more capable workers – yes, make the public more aware of what social workers can and can’t do so expectations are not unreal – yes and make universities who train social workers factor more real life into their courses so Newly Qualified Social Workers have more confidence and are therefore more fit for purpose.

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