There has been a lot of discussion over the past few years about how we can improve social work for children’s services, mostly from the very well publicised failings. Each time there has been significant learning for those in social work, which has lead to some positive changes in practise. This includes the Children Act 1989 being updated with and supplemented by the Children Act 2004, it has also seen the Guidance that is attached to the Children’s Act being updated, along with the Working Together Document, which is still in the process of being updated and agreed.
But despite this Social Work practise remains misunderstood and that instead of it being a well needed service it is instead seen as a burden to society, draining it of it financial resources. Instead of the real focus of social work, which today remains focused upon the needs of the most vulnerable people in society and protecting them from abuse.
It remains clear that the biggest issue still remains in defining what a vulnerable child is and at what point intervention is needed. It is at this point that social work is needed to be understood that there is no quick fix to create a perfect utopia as Andrew Adonis suggests, that you can not rush through social work learning to jump into this puzzle with a commitment of two years a hardy smile and a willingness to challenge!
Walking into the room above is a good example of what social work is about, each reflection tells a different story and each story may be interpreted differently by those who observe it, including the family and the child and it is only at the point of immediate risk of significant harm that a legal order can be applied for to safeguard a child. So to rush through the learning and the reflection needed to gather each persons perception of what they are seeing to analyse the risk and identify the impact of this to decide whether it is a concern that requires a social work intervention is not something that can be raced through.
The aim is to raise the profile of social work and prevent child abuse and the worse case event of a child dying due to the neglect by the perpetrator of this. It should also be recognised that this responsibility lies with everyone and every organisation should have a child protection policy, in order to understand it and prevent it from happening!
So today when I was asked the question is there any way to improve? the answer was Yes, talk to Social Workers, understand what the difficulties are in social work and where the learning is needed to develop practise including investing in social work and acknowledging that specialist knowledge is learned over a long period of time not over a fancy title. So lets expand on what is already happening with the Change programme and the assessed year of practise.
And remember if you walked into the mirrored room would you be able to identify which image was the true reflection of what was happening for that child? because removing a child has serious implications especially when done so for the wrong reason!