Just when you thought it was safe to practise social work again after the latest scandal and in depth report. The local safeguarding board produces its latest policies. These are great and actually really useful, except there is a common theme them running through them all. “Serious Case Management” or “Serious Risk Meetings” or “Management of Serious risk”. All meetings that involve everyone within the council to analyse, reflect and examine everything that you have done, and then suggest something different. Sometimes this can be useful, and for some cases very definitely needed. Especially around the transition period from child to adult, when the threshold for a service suddenly rises leaving many young people with the bare minimum of support from their aftercare service.
Working with looked after Children aged between 14 to 18 years of age is not always easy for many reasons. The latest guidance produced is ‘working with children that are harder to reach’. Interestingly enough it suggests that many young people are harder to reach because they do not see their social worker enough!! However, its answer to this problem is to arrange a senior managers meeting taking you further away from the young person. Rather than allowing you more time with face to face contact allowing you to practise social work.
Today I spent most of the morning talking with one of my social workers. Sophie (not her real name) Sophie was sharing her frustration and feelings about the current pressures of her work affecting her health. “Its not the work Sophie talks about, its the increased reporting, longer pathway planning, computer systems creating duplication. Statutory visits that now consist of questionnaires, and information gathering, in order for the Local Authority to keep an eye and evidence on what it is doing.
I would argue that this is the reason why many of the young people we work with are becoming harder to reach. Losing confidence in the work we do with them because they can not see the benefit, as every visit is about information and not about them, losing the child focus and does not relate to them directly.
I like the idea that Munro gives of one continuous assessment, as long as it is accepted by everyone as a the basis for any information they receive. This way systems could be developed that enable better communication, and perhaps even indirectly through different applications that enables the information needed to be gained in a less intrusive fashion allowing social work to be developed with the young person.
Instead at present we have the daily dilemmas of which fire to put out, balanced with the paperwork required. Thankfully not in triplicate but still the working together document will look like a pamphlet compared to the number of people you have to remember to send all of the different information to.
Meanwhile Sophie is left frustrated and torn between the job she enjoys and the frustration of a system that is far from child friendly at times. Hoping that the positive visits will out way all of the negative meetings, that the small progress seen are greater than the massive set backs seen on a daily basis.
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.