Do you remember saying whilst you were at school ‘what will I ever needs maths for when I leave school?’ I know I did, and although you know that you will always need maths for your every day life, its not until recently that I have seen it in a different perspective.
Your maths teacher who appears to be very wise, would always say ‘show your working out’ – ‘its not the answer I want to see, but how you got to that answer’. This is so true for social work assessments to, after all we know the long term impact of neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse on families and importantly the young person.
But what we do not always do so well is show how we get there or more importantly demonstrate for the families, for the young people and maybe sadly sometimes the courts, Guardians, independent organisations that may review our work they might not know how we get there. After all I strongly believe that where a good social work assessment is undertaken it does not need to be disregarded by the court for then an ‘expert’ to rewrite to give the same conclusion.
And sadly these assessments are not simple equations they are long multiplication, because there is no one sum that will give you the necessary formula to follow. It is however the biggest worry that I have in the current economic crisis, that social work is trying to become through different strategies a lean systems thinking machine. Able to reflect and assess and target each factor affecting every aspect of the vulnerable family and therefore protecting vulnerable children with targeted work with just one formula.
My advise would not to rush to solve the problem, instead look at each part of the equation and ensure that each part of the sum adds up before moving on to solve the next part. Each agency will use a different code so it is also important that it is translated clearly, with a good analysis of the assessment and should be using research and legislation to support the sum.
I know this is starting to sound like code, but in short with all of the thinking and policy being focused on ‘Think family’ and early intervention, it is especially relevant and important that these good quality assessments are completed, that every action is understood as to what the long term impact will be. Why – because if family placements were to break down during adolescents the emotional damage will by far greater and harder to engage meaningfully.
So stores of Rochdale will become fewer and fewer because social workers will be exploring each part of the sum rather than skipping to the conclusion or more often than not, taking a prescribed action with out considering the long term impact of not looking at all options.
To Safeguard does not mean making and taking quick child protection actions (always) unless there is an immediate risk of significant harm.