If you could point a finger at someone to blame for the cuts that we are starting to shoulder and feel the bite of who would you point it at. I would imagine that it would be like a game of spin the bottle but no one wanting to get in the cupboard with Local Authority’s.
Could you save money when working with children? Would you be able to decide who can have a therapeutic placement or who would have to leave a foster placement to live alone or in a shared house?
It’s not easy, is it? The impact of this decision could have a lasting impact on a young persons life. It could mean the difference of managing adulthood in work and being happy or living a life in chaos and always needing a service.
For young people in care, I worry that the social work assessments are slowly being replaced by the need to keep budgets balanced. Team Managers are being trained to manage their own budgets, so that the blame for over spends can be placed at individual teams rather than the service.
Pressure is being placed on recording almost day to day why young people are still in their foster placements! Why are they still placed out of county in Residential? With the same information being requested in different formats.
The reason for the information is that the budget only seven months after restarting, is going to be over spent!
If you are in agreement with the budget cuts are you happy knowing that your profit and luxury is at the expense of a young person needing quality therapeutic intervention. Knowing that this young person will grow up struggling needing more support.
Big Society is not going to be able to support the pressure of placements and nor will encouraging more private business because there is still no money to pay for the placements. Social Enterprise will also struggle to find the money to pay for services, placements.
For the young people more uncertainty and confusion and worry will impact upon their integration and development into their adult world and society!
One useful tool Social Workers have, is knowledge and information. Being able to access information to aid assessments quickly helps to develop and maintain relationships. Whilst also making these assessment more accurate and essential to the families it involves.
The note book and pen is a useful tool, it allows thoughts to be noted and reflected upon. Its a tool that can be given to a child to help them express what they want to say. It does have its weakness that in our changing world of social work that with office space shrinking and storage space non existing. Keeping notes and finding them again is becoming difficult, with pressure mounting for them to be added to our computer systems, quickly.
I had been quite lucky with a 3G laptop and being able to access our systems where ever I might be. It enabled me to be able to retain knowledge that with everything else would have been to to much to manage. It meant that instead of delay I was able to get information and send information without having to go back into the office first. It not only helped me but the agencies that I was working with, and promoted working relationships.
This may not sound like modern technology, but for me and my practise this was a useful tool in getting information quicker. It enabled me to be a more mobile working social worker and saved me time especially if I had to go out of county for a visit or if I had to sit in court all day waiting for an hours direction hearing. As we waited for this to be trialled within the service, the spirit of the trial was lost. Instead mobile working became flexible working from home and now the contract has finished so has my mobile working.
Being able to access your e-mails and respond to them is an important part of a social workers job. But being able to access the child’s electronic file is also important, and would help practitioners to double check information and make decisions and risk assessments faster.
Computer programmes has been previously developed to enable young people to share their views for Looked After Children’s Reviews. An idea that recently seems to have disappeared where I am. However, with smartphones and apps there is a chance for further development in this area of engagement. Not just with Social Work, buts Schools and maybe CAMHS to.
I have had no information as to why this was stopped or whether any thought had been given to this. Instead I found one e-mail saying we maybe be allocated Blackberries! this may mean I am losing my hot desk or it may mean I have to learn a new password. I also hope that Social Work loses its fear of technology and learns how to communicate through this medium to safeguard the vulnerable people we work with.
There is not many times in my life where I have felt extremely happy or that I feel I have achieved something extra special. Social Worker is a battle either to keep families together or to get funding to provide the right service to the young people you work with. More frustrating than not this is often left by senior managers to the last minute. However, for me this week I have been given a smile on my face as my faith in Social Work is temporarily restored. I have found out that my wife who has been studying Social Work for the past three years has a job in her service area.