Tag Archives: environment

Its all Math

Do you remember saying whilst you were at school ‘what will I ever needs maths for when I leave school?’ I know I did, and although you know that you will always need maths for your every day life, its not until recently that I have seen it in a different perspective.

Your maths teacher who appears to be very wise, would always say ‘show your working out’ – ‘its not the answer I want to see, but how you got to that answer’.  This is so true for social work assessments to, after all we know the long term impact of neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse on families and importantly the young person.

But what we do not always do so well is show how we get there or more importantly demonstrate for the families, for the young people and maybe sadly sometimes the courts, Guardians, independent organisations that may review our work they might not know how we get there.  After all I strongly believe that where a good social work assessment is undertaken it does not need to be disregarded by the court for then an ‘expert’ to rewrite to give the same conclusion.

And sadly these assessments are not simple equations they are long multiplication, because there is no one sum that will give you the necessary formula to follow.  It is however the biggest worry that I have in the current economic crisis, that social work is trying to become through different strategies a lean systems thinking machine.  Able to reflect and assess and target each factor affecting every aspect of the vulnerable family and therefore protecting vulnerable children with targeted work with just one formula.

My advise would not to rush to solve the problem, instead look at each part of the equation and ensure that each part of the sum adds up before moving on to solve the next part.  Each agency will use a different code so it is also important that it is translated clearly, with a good analysis of the assessment and should be using research and legislation to support the sum.

I know this is starting to sound like code, but in short with all of the thinking and policy being focused on ‘Think family’ and early intervention, it is especially relevant and important that these good quality assessments are completed, that every action is understood as to what the long term impact will be.  Why – because if family placements were to break down during adolescents the emotional damage will by far greater and harder to engage meaningfully.

So stores of Rochdale will become fewer and fewer because social workers will be exploring each part of the sum rather than skipping to the conclusion or more often than not, taking a prescribed action with out considering the long term impact of not looking at all options.

To Safeguard does not mean making and taking quick child protection actions (always) unless there is an immediate risk of significant harm.


feeling valued


Have you ever wondered if you were considering leaving social work what the reason would be? A common theme is the high case load and the pressure spent on completing paperwork rather than the quality time needed with the young people.  Community Care have completed their own research that evidences the strain every social worker is under here.

After all if you do not have the time to do the work needed with families what is the point? Well there is always a point when preventing significant harm, but a short term fix is not a long term solution and having worked with many young people who remain in confused about the reasons they are in care or deeply affected by the abuse they have suffered.  I can understand why and how this can disillusion a lot of good social workers.

But what I do see a lot of is social workers leaving because of change! The change programme that is being designed to bring radical change to social work and allow social work to be redesigned and allow face to face work again.

And it is not that this is a good idea, but instead the short sighted attempts by the Government and the pressures placed on Local Authority’s to make these changes without the funding and systems to do this safely.

Where a basic investment in the staff is low priority, where consultation takes place staff are shouted down and ignored so that senior managers can achieve the savings needed.  It is these changes or lack of that I am seeing on a daily basis, causing greater pressure and a feeling of disillusion.

It is this detail that will have the greater impact on social workers and whether they will be able to continue their work.  The systems that are employed can assist or more often than not disadvantage the social work process.  Which could mean a big difference for young people and their families.

I guess for me I will continue to speak up about the process and how change takes place, and so should everyone else in the appropriate manner.  Hopefully then the change that does happen will be considered and thought out rather than forced upon.