Tag Archives: education

On the Rise.

Like many Social Workers, I have been desperately holding on to the dream that maybe one day the promises of a ‘different way of working’ will come true.  Change, is, and always on the cards within the day-to-day life of Local Authority work.  However, ‘Real’ change does not happen as often.  When Eileen Munro reviewed the child protection system there were plenty of areas that needed improvement.  No one could argue that this was not true.

The level of red tape often meant that social workers were not spending enough time with children and families – this had to be cut and reduced, with more autonomy to be given to each Local Authority.  In order to adapt its policies and procedures, to meet the needs of the child in need within its area.  Consideration was to be given to the journey of the child through what is and remains complex and often slow child protection system, before a permanent placement could be found either within the family or away from the family.

Sadly, like any other great idea it comes at a cost – one where savings need to be made, ring fenced budgets removed and the consequences higher if mistakes or errors occur.  Of course this is really important, Child deaths are completely unacceptable as is any child abuse.

But and there is a but! a big one as well.  Is the continuing rise in cases being held by social workers and the one factor that makes a difference to the quality of work being completed.  A factor that will stop social workers seeing children, completing their assessments, direct work with families and ensuring that their case recordings are completed.  Let alone complete the research they need to keep their learning up to date.

It is easy to see how social workers can ‘burn out’ very quickly as the better you are at understanding complex cases the more you have.  Where new procedures at the front door and early intervention work is supposed to be reducing the number of cases needing statutory assessment and intervention.  The actual number of referrals continue to rise, as does the growing level of cases being held by social workers.

Whilst this Government feels and focuses on the need to better educate or create super social workers, the reality remains,  that this will not resolve the current situation in social work.  Even the strongest of social worker can only manage the daily pressures and struggles for so long before the pressure becomes too much.  Armed with the knowledge however, that the grass is not greener anywhere else, often social workers are faced with hard decisions when the levels of stress have reached capacity.  Meaning often social workers leaving front line social work with their experience and knowledge lost.

So as the number of cases rise so do the numbers of social workers leaving, making it more complex for local authorities to recruit and maintain experienced staff.

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Children are the future!

One of the great joys of Social Work is that you can never be right, well at least that’s how it appears or portrayed by the media.  And in a blog post by Abe Laurens in the ‘not so big society’ titled ‘Shine a light’ illustrates rather well how the media portrays one image whilst the research points in a different direction.

However, children are the future of our world so it is therefore important to safeguard their well-being; and prevent harm that will affect them for the rest of their lives.  And by harm we are talking about significant harm.

But what did catch my eye this week was a Blog posted on the Community Care Children’s service blog post about neglect! and what is good enough parenting? A term so heavily used in Care Proceedings and Child Protection.  Action for Children in their recent report found on the blog or here that:

  • ” Two-thirds (67%) feel that the law on parenting is confusing.
  • Nearly three-quarters (72%) agree that there is no common understanding of what ‘good enough’ parenting is.
  • Only 16% agree that the law should not intervene in how people choose to raise their children.
  • Most parents (59%) believe that the state has a duty to intervene.
  • When asked what would help parents to meet their responsibilities, two-thirds (66%) call for a clear law which can be understood by all.
  • Support services were identified as the key way to help parents if things go wrong (73%). Action for Children 2012″

The main reason for this is because

“In April next year the law on neglect will be 80 years old – Action for Children does not want to see that anniversary come and go without government commitment that it will be changed so that more children are protected.”

For those of you who are a parent, or planning to be a parent there is always a worry about whether you are making the right decisions for your children.  The worry and guilt if you say ‘No’ and whether your children will forgive you for saying ‘No’.  Of course they do! and from this develops their trust and love in you, but at three in the morning when they are crying because they are unwell or missed school due to a lot of sickness you can start to question your own decisions.

However, do I need a law to tell me this? No I probably wouldn’t although I have the luxury of 15 years of training, reading and direct childcare experience and two great children that test me and reward me with their love (I hope).

More to the point does the law need to change? Do parents know what is expected of them? and do parents understand what neglect is? Of course we do and rather than have a new law we do require an understanding of neglect through positive media images of the work that social workers, teachers, health professionals, and volunteers do on a daily basis to prevent families breaking down.

Child development theories have been clear about the stages that babies, toddlers Children and young people move through.  This is regularly measured and monitored by health professionals starting with the Midwife, then the Health Visitor and then School Nurse and General Practitioner.  Inevitably with the cut backs in Public services the observations made by these professionals will affect the number of families that can be identified at an early stage.

Furthermore the law is clear about Children’s attendance at school and also there is clear law around substance misuse and Domestic Violence.

However, what is lacking in English Law is the consideration for all legislation to include relevant consideration to the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child .  We do have the Children Act 1989 and also the Children Act 2004, which with all of the guidance and the Working together documents highlights what Child Neglect is.

The real message is that neglect does not just occur in poorer families, and neglect can be identified through knowledge and observations from Professionals and then assessed by Social Workers.  The concern is that there will be no law passed by next April, instead the real concern is that Neglect is a priority of the Government that could be lost with the cuts that they are trying to make.

It remains important that the assessments made by Social Workers are respected and checked by their managers as a Safeguard to rogue assessments.  That, neglect remains on the agenda of everyone but allowing families to live their lives.  The law is already in place to protect children, research is available about neglect and more research is currently being undertaken.

Social Work is not about herding children into care, it is about protection and support and Neglect or good enough parenting will be different from family to family and hard to legislate and enforce.

Mission Work Experience

When you were younger or if you are young did you ever have a dream? That when you left school you would enter into the job of your dreams! My Granddad was in the airforce as part of his national service and my fondest childhood memories involved going to many an air show looking at and watching planes fly through the air.  Of Course, sadly my dream of becoming a pilot never came to be, but the help my school gave me in my work experience placement did help me in identifying my skills and a practical placement that kept me on track to becoming a Social Worker today!

However, a few weeks ago I was speaking with my cousin and I asked her about her work experience placement.  “I have not got one, I have to find my own!” I was shocked, the value of these work experience placements is far greater than the paperwork needed to complete them! And today the difficulties are further described in an article by the BBC.

The report from the Education and Employers Taskforce and Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and with a foreword by Mr Lightman, says work experience makes a big difference to the career paths of young people. BBC

The significance of using personal social networks to create work experience placements further creates social disadvantage.  Furthermore, without encouragement could prevent many young people for pushing themselves to challenge the system and lift themselves out of their current situation.  Also with 1.8 million children living in Workless families what is their opportunity to find work?

I know from my own personal circumstances that without the insight work experience gave me that I would not be where I am today.  Moreover, the cut backs have crippled and removed in many places the carers support that Connexions offered.  Compulsory education is being extended to 18 years of age and part of this could be an apprenticeship, but what is the meaningful outcome of this if there is more blocks than supports to young people trying to find work.

The challenge is to prevent young people from becoming NEET (Not in Education Employment or Training).  The impact upon the young persons self esteem in having a Job is significant in the rest of their lives and their ability to contribute to society.

Perhaps their needs to be a rethink of the process involved with work experience to make it easier for schools and employers to take young people on.  It most definitely should not be a ‘Work Fair’ scheme but a meaningful learning process that encourages further learning and young people being able to obtain better outcomes for themselves!