Its not often I stop to think what it is in social work that I am good in doing! it is easier to say that I make mistakes and learn from these. However, it still remains clear that despite the many hours of training and then the many hours of direct work with families that social workers are still rarely seen as experts.
I can see why, after all how easy is it to say that I am an expert in child protection? or I can predict the age of a separated child! But I do have a long history of working with children, furthermore I understand risk and my ability to reflect perhaps stops me from thinking that actually I might be expert.
After all, the last place anyone wants to be is in court highlighting what has happened well and what has happened not so well and what the immediate significant harm is. Instead it would be far better to be an expert in keeping families together but this would never get to court to be proven would it?
But what this really means is how can I adapt as a social worker to change within a changing service? What do I still bring to the table as a skilled practitioner and how can I support other social workers and the families that they still work with.
As privatisation and the talk of early intervention becomes an almost daily discussion in the media, the need of social workers to really understand the work that they do becomes more important. To continue to broaden your experience to be able to adapt to meet the needs of young people and their families becomes more key in understanding what you are experienced in completing.
I am pleased to say that I have been lucky in the opportunities that I have had and will continue to fight for. But for those starting out in social work, do not ignore the work you do on a daily basis and the extra you need to do to learn from it and develop the expertise we may all need one day.