Have you been able to see a reduction in the work that Social Workers undertake? Has there been an increase in the seriousness of the cases held? It seems like it or is it just that the nature of social work is always complex. It appears that the most common comments raised about cases are around the complexity of them. I hope that this is not just a rise in thresholds, but instead a raised and increased awareness from all professionals working with Children and Young People. Better training in identifying when help is needed, and tighter regulations that have increased the number of referrals and assessments completed.
One definite that I have noticed lately is the increase in the amount of work that appears to be taken on by our team. Working in a Looked after Children’s team we have seen an increase in the numbers of cases that we have both of Young People on Care Orders and Voluntary accommodated.
There has been NO change in thresholds! Instead for our team some notable changes in Judgements and Regulations have meant that the number of Young People needing support has increased gradually.
The most significant is the Southwark Judgement, which affected Social Care when engaging with young People aged 16-17 years of age. This closely examined the definitions of Section 17 support and Section 20 accommodation, under the Children Act 1989 and whether this should be used rather than homelessness legislation. The implication of this judgement has been more Young People requiring support.
The second change is to the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review, which came into force on the 1st of April 2011 and although this has not increased the amount of young people coming into care, it does provide new guidance for supporting Young People who may want to leave care sooner than 18 and the responsibilities on Local Authorities to ensure that the Young Person can return to being looked after or carry on being looked after in a supported way.
All of this has been a positive change for all Young People who may find them being looked after, at the age of 16 and 17. When young people are trying to understand who they are; and understanding their relationships. It is also a key time for their education and an essential time for support and guidance.
Has there been a reduction in thresholds? I can say where I am there has not yet. But there has been a push for early intervention, I worry that with a reduction in services within the communities that families that may not need Social Care Support have ended up with a referral because a lack of early intervention has escalated the risk or concerning factors within the family.