Category Archives: Confusion

future changes

There is one thing that I can say about social work, and that is you never really know what direction you could be going in. What I mean is that working in a Local Authority you are always subjected to the effects of budget cuts, and in all the years that I have practised the budget has always been reduced.

For some of us in social work especially children services we became excited over the prospect of social work becoming social work again. So looked forward to the next change with a glimmer of hope that it would bring the promise of more direct work.

It appeared that the sun was going to rise upon the social work profession. A new body monitoring and regulating social work practise, The College of Social Work to offer support, guidance and much more. The Munro Review providing the argument and understanding why the change is needed for social work and a direction that it could take.

But like a firework display on a very wet night the hype was there and dampened by the rain it so far has not amounted to much. The promise of reclaiming social work may still be a dream relying on social workers to give more of their own time to offer a small percentage of what the greater public expect of the profession.

The effect is staff that burn out, children and families that stay in distressed states unable to manage and unsure what is happening. The trouble is that often intervention for families does not need to be at a high level, often intervention at an effective level at the right time will prevent stress and separation within families. And the changes that are still promised in social work are geared up towards this work.

The trouble is everyday that passes by leads to the risk of another serious incident putting young people and adults at risk of significant harm. Although serious case reviews take place and learning is applied to professional practise, this does not give the information needed by each local authority to redesign their provision to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

Change will happen, I am sure of that but what I am not so sure of is whether it will bring with it a glimmer of hope. A service that can prevent family breakdown where possible. A service that keeps children safe at home and when they are in care, can invest in better quality contact and therapeutic interactions.

But don’t be fooled every day positive work still goes on, social workers going beyond what is expected for the people they work with. It is also important that social work myths are challenged and dispelled and it was good to see the three-part TV series Protecting our children. I hope that more will follow and show all aspects of social work in the same caring positive light.

Winds of Change

Its been a funny week this week, my Manager who had been on leave, has returned to work.  And with this appears to have a new eagerness to make sudden changes in the teams practises! it seems at any cost.  It appears as a result of this, the team had made a concious decision to be working from home all this week.


Perhaps this eagerness is due to the important changes in Children’s Social Care; as new Guidances comes into force on the 1st of April 2011.  With these changes comes a new framework for Care planning.

Department of Education

This diagram shows how all of the sections of the legal framework fits together, in order to keep the theme of the Child at the centre.  And maybe it is me, but this is not a new concept? and all services should link together to provide answers to met the individual Child’s needs.


It felt like we were almost preparing for this change for the first time by inviting in an external trainer to explain the changes to Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 3: Planning Transitions to Adulthood for Care Leavers.  However, this soon changed as after the lunch it seemed like everyone had starting to flag with the dry delivery, and copious amounts of handouts that would need to be read!


This Guidance sets out the contents of the “Pathway Plan” and explains how and with whom this plan should be created with.  However, this is not as easy as it always may seem.  For many Young People, and including myself at 16, leaving home and starting on your own seems daunting.  At least I was able to have a choice as to when I moved out! 


The Guidance is supposed to aim to give Care Leavers the same level of support that their peers would receive when leaving home from a reasonable parent.  “Reasonable” being the key term for tailoring a plan that meets the individual needs of the Young Person in preparing and support to Leave Care.


There is two new exciting additions to this Guidance that I like.  The first being a move away from the attitude of ending the Looked After Status of Young People (Under Section 20, CA 1989) who have returned home.  For me this is a positive step to ensuring that risk can be balanced with Support and success.  The support of course, is based on the Assessment of Need and is individual to each Young Person. But will ensure that there can be a successful return home managed and ensuring this does not break down by cutting all support altogether.  This could also be true for Young People 16+ who decide to move into unregulated placements, or found a friend they can share with.

The second change is a big step to supporting any Young Person who has left Care, to carry on with Higher Education up to the age of 25.  This is a good move to support Young People who may still be in Crisis and vulnerable as they leave care, who might have wanted to carry on learning but has not been able to.  I know from my own experiences contemplating Higher Education at 21 was too much and I was not in  Crisis!  The support however, will be assessed by the Local Authority and could vary from individual to the area they live in.
Since I know longer case hold and have responsibility to ensure that the Pathway plans meet the level required, I find it more and more important that the time is taken to ensure the plans are made well.  It is clear where the Social Workers really know the Young Person as the plan is clear and shows the views of the Young Person.

But as the 1st of April approaches, these changes become more real and important to not only the Local Authority’s but also to the Young Person.  Who should be at the centre of the planning and kept up to date with any changes.  I know I will be making sure the Pathway Plans that I sign off meet up to the new Regulations. 

I hope that by next week my Manager would have had time to reflect on her drive for change, read the paperwork and be ready to support our team with the changes required.