Changing Times

Have you ever imagined a world where there is no need for Social Work within families or Children Social Workers.  For many families this will already be true, and for them it would be harder to imagine what Social Work is and why it takes place.  

David Cameron is an example of this, and this week announced his vision to end state monopoly on Public Services.  Cameron explains his rationale for this over his own experience of the care of his son; and his own  frustration over the Local Authority having control of the budget for this.  A feeling shared by most parents who have Children, that need extra support with a disability.   

Perhaps worryingly this explains the increasing erosion of front line services, that are so successful in engaging vulnerable families.  Agencies such as Home Start or Sure Start Children Centres.  Which often provide a life line to vulnerable, and young families who need simple and often basic support to improve their situation.  To be replaced with another vision of a Big Society where people will volunteer and support services and their own community’s. Something that has yet to be tested and tried in any large scale.

Being a Children’s Social Worker I do worry that through all of these changes that Child Protection is being forgotten despite being in the news for serious cases like Victoria Climbe (2003) that lead to the Laming enquiry and report.   Baby Peter, and from this the Munro investigation into Child Protection.  

I worry because we only just have the Munro interim report and her first report into Child Protection Part one from which, the key message was clearly early intervention and prevention is key for  preventing families to enter into the system and drifting within it.  What we have now seems to be a backward step being taken in an area, which is so key to the long term success for the child remaining within their family and achieve positive outcomes.  

Early intervention is not a new concept and the CAF (Common Assessment Framework (2006) was a way of creating an early assessment and a team around the child quickly.  To work with services to prevent families needing to come in to contact with Social Care.

I wonder whether Child Protection teams could be taken away from Council control and be part of a Profit making company or even a Non Profit making Charity such as the NSPCC who are the only other organisational body that can investigate Child Protection enquiry’s.  

I guess that if I had a vision it would be for Social Work teams working with Children and their families to begin their work earlier to prevent families breaking down.  It would be for Social Workers to support vulnerable groups such as looked after Children, Care Leavers, and Young Parents.  Supporting School’s with Challenging Behaviour and neglect.  Supporting parents with Substance misuse and helping families and parents develop their confidence to become part of the community that they live in.  But I guess that this is not really a big vision or even a new vision.  It is just a plea that all Social Workers are supported by everyone to reduce the stigma attached to having Social Care involved and promote the Job that we do initially to support family’s and then keep Children Safe!

3 responses

  1. Great post yet again. Wouldn't it be lovely to have the resources we actually need to do our jobs effectively instead of having them cut or taken away completely. Maybe someday………

  2. Thought provokingI would question whether not-for-profits could fund raise if they had to take the stick from media and public that Haringey did. Equally could independent providers of child protection afford insurance premiums?Keep up the thinking

  3. My experience is working in adults services, but I think the logic is similar. There is a widespread acknowledgement that prevention is a good thing and whatsmore is effective, so more money on preventative services promotes better quality of life and saves money too.The problem, as my old head of service said, was that there was hardly any money for prevention, so we had to spend more on picking up the pieces and unless there was major investement in prevention the cycle would never be broken.Politically too, I think if theres one thing which terrifies politicians and senior managers its the prospect of a headline case. This is more likely to happen in childrens services than adults where even if systems fail spectacularly it causes far less ripples in the media. What this means is that in a budget cutting environment it will be the preventative services which get hit. This is because of the opaqueness of causality around prevention, it is very hard to say that someone, for example had a fall because a preventative service was not there, or was taken away, it just doesn't add up, there's no one there to blame despite the fact that had the service been available the person wouldn't have had a fall and would still be happily living in their own home rather than being a candidate for residentail care. On the other hand when someone comes into contact with services and then has a fall it's much easier to trace this a failiure in care or omission by a worker carrying out an assessment. The paperwork and audit trails are all there so causality is much easier to pin down. Therefore politicians will be very wary of making cuts to these services.

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