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.
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!