Category Archives: Big Society

Child Protection

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.  

Its hard to imagine that anyone would want to do that anyway? after all in some areas they are one of the biggest employer (or were).  But it is like being dragged to the hair dressers when you are a little child and you want to let your hair grow long.  “You will make the cuts” – “you will have your hair cut!” So 25% goes straight away from every service including Child Protection and the specialist services.  I mean its a Tory council so there can not be pot holes in the road.
But as a Children’s Social Worker should I be pleased to hear that finally a review of the cuts is being asked for  by the four Children’s Commissioners.  Although we already know the answers, and why the NSPCC argued that it is a false economy to implement general cuts to all services.
Could I be to harsh about the impact of the cuts, should I be looking at ways of supporting the community to help others within the street in child protection issues.  How to have those sensitive, difficult conversations with their neighbours about domestic abuse, substance misuse, physical, emotional, sexual abuse and neglect.  I have lived in a street where the neighbours have wanted to know all about everything that is happening in your life.  Where it is common for people to walk in and make the tea.  The trouble with this is if you can not get on with everyone the situation often becomes worse.
Its not all doom and gloom, there is opportunity for groups to come together to manage community centres and run breakfast clubs, after school clubs, support groups, parenting classes, keep fit classes, cooking classes.  Managed and promoted by the community for the community.  Providing support from people who are living in the community and understand the difficulties that are specific to that area.  Therefore the support being provided is relevant, necessary and needed.
Child protection is important at all levels and can not be cut in the community, or at the higher level.  Because the impact on Children does not last just until 18 years of age, learned behaviour is hard to change especially if there has been damage done.
So to the Children’s Commissioners speak to the young people, hear their complaints about their care, accommodation, access to education, contact with family and their future prospects.  Challenge the Government on the cuts, and ensure the right services are provided for all Children and Young People.

Carer Cuts

Can you remember your carer’s advice before Connexions was created? For me it is so long ago my own memory of it is very vague.  At most it was a one hour lesson and answering some questions on a computer programme.  I am still delighted that my chosen carer was on that list.  Looking back now, that was the total amount of my carer’s advice.  The rest was down to me and luck and a lot of pressure – I mean support from my family.
Having worked closely with Connexions for the past year, I can see an immense benefit for this service.  For some Young People they will know instantly what they will do in the future.  Some Young People will they will be lucky enough to go down an interest that may lead them into a carer.  However, there is a whole host of Young People from all parts of Society that do not fall into these categories.  They have no support from family, no positive role models and may not have been looked after by the Local Authority.  Their education quickly becoming low on their agenda as the need to survive in a hard-hitting Society increases.
There continues to be a rise in the numbers of Young People who are unemployed.  Leaving School and not finding work, or having College course qualifications that don’t support their job applications.  And at this point I do worry about my own children, and where they will find work when they are older.  It seems with the loss of Woolworths that there seems to be a loss of high street jobs, with a trend moving towards online shopping continues to spread.  This may be easier however, if you do live in a bigger town or city.
Therefore Connexions is not just about carer’s advice.  It is a safe place to visit, where staff are friendly, and have experience to support Young People with Teenage Pregnancy, Counselling, Substance Misuse.  They work with lots of different teams to provide support to all Young People.  Connexions run short courses with employers that could lead to employment; they advertise jobs appropriate for Young People.  Connexions are also in Colleges and support Young People to apply for College and find the right College course for them helping Young People to return to education.
So it saddens me as a Professional and as a Father knowing that this service is going to be phased out and replaced with a more generic service.  Where carer’s advice will return to School’s for the Young People.  Some Connexions have already gone from the town centre making it harder for Young People to gain help and support.
In today’s Society we are being encouraged to look and talk about “Big Society” it appears where people are no longer able to expect to get ‘face to face’ support.  Instead you will need to have the confidence and ability and determination to find out the information for yourself using the internet (if you have access).  Or maybe joining the many at your local job centre and argue and fight the bureaucracy there for information and support.
Connexions is a positive service for all Young People and one that promotes the five Key Outcomes and also supports Young People in our communities.

Changing Times

Have you ever imagined a world where there is no need for Social Work within families or Children Social Workers.  For many families this will already be true, and for them it would be harder to imagine what Social Work is and why it takes place.  

David Cameron is an example of this, and this week announced his vision to end state monopoly on Public Services.  Cameron explains his rationale for this over his own experience of the care of his son; and his own  frustration over the Local Authority having control of the budget for this.  A feeling shared by most parents who have Children, that need extra support with a disability.   

Perhaps worryingly this explains the increasing erosion of front line services, that are so successful in engaging vulnerable families.  Agencies such as Home Start or Sure Start Children Centres.  Which often provide a life line to vulnerable, and young families who need simple and often basic support to improve their situation.  To be replaced with another vision of a Big Society where people will volunteer and support services and their own community’s. Something that has yet to be tested and tried in any large scale.

Being a Children’s Social Worker I do worry that through all of these changes that Child Protection is being forgotten despite being in the news for serious cases like Victoria Climbe (2003) that lead to the Laming enquiry and report.   Baby Peter, and from this the Munro investigation into Child Protection.  

I worry because we only just have the Munro interim report and her first report into Child Protection Part one from which, the key message was clearly early intervention and prevention is key for  preventing families to enter into the system and drifting within it.  What we have now seems to be a backward step being taken in an area, which is so key to the long term success for the child remaining within their family and achieve positive outcomes.  

Early intervention is not a new concept and the CAF (Common Assessment Framework (2006) was a way of creating an early assessment and a team around the child quickly.  To work with services to prevent families needing to come in to contact with Social Care.

I wonder whether Child Protection teams could be taken away from Council control and be part of a Profit making company or even a Non Profit making Charity such as the NSPCC who are the only other organisational body that can investigate Child Protection enquiry’s.  

I guess that if I had a vision it would be for Social Work teams working with Children and their families to begin their work earlier to prevent families breaking down.  It would be for Social Workers to support vulnerable groups such as looked after Children, Care Leavers, and Young Parents.  Supporting School’s with Challenging Behaviour and neglect.  Supporting parents with Substance misuse and helping families and parents develop their confidence to become part of the community that they live in.  But I guess that this is not really a big vision or even a new vision.  It is just a plea that all Social Workers are supported by everyone to reduce the stigma attached to having Social Care involved and promote the Job that we do initially to support family’s and then keep Children Safe!