Tag Archives: science

Is there anyway to improve?

There has been a lot of discussion over the past few years about how we can improve social work for children’s services, mostly from the very well publicised failings.  Each time there has been significant learning for those in social work, which has lead to some positive changes in practise.  This includes the Children Act 1989 being updated with and supplemented by the Children Act 2004, it has also seen the Guidance that is attached to the Children’s Act being updated, along with the Working Together Document, which is still in the process of being updated and agreed.

But despite this Social Work practise remains misunderstood and that instead of it being a well needed service it is instead seen as a burden to society, draining it of it financial resources.  Instead of the real focus of social work, which today remains focused upon the needs of the most vulnerable people in society and protecting them from abuse.

It remains clear that the biggest issue still remains in defining what a vulnerable child is and at what point intervention is needed.  It is at this point that social work is needed to be understood that there is no quick fix to create a perfect utopia as Andrew Adonis suggests, that you can not rush through social work learning to jump into this puzzle with a commitment of two years a hardy smile and a willingness to challenge!

Walking into the room above is a good example of what social work is about, each reflection tells a different story and each story may be interpreted differently by those who observe it, including the family and the child and it is only at the point of immediate risk of significant harm that a legal order can be applied for to safeguard a child.  So to rush through the learning and the reflection needed to gather each persons perception of what they are seeing to analyse the risk and identify the impact of this to decide whether it is a concern that requires a social work intervention is not something that can be raced through.

The aim is to raise the profile of social work and prevent child abuse and the worse case event of a child dying due to the neglect by the perpetrator of this.  It should also be recognised that this responsibility lies with everyone and every organisation should have a child protection policy, in order to understand it and prevent it from happening!

So today when I was asked the question is there any way to improve? the answer was Yes, talk to Social Workers, understand what the difficulties are in social work and where the learning is needed to develop practise including investing in social work and acknowledging that specialist knowledge is learned over a long period of time not over a fancy title.  So lets expand on what is already happening with the Change programme and the assessed year of practise.

And remember if you walked into the mirrored room would you be able to identify which image was the true reflection of what was happening for that child? because removing a child has serious implications especially when done so for the wrong reason!

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.

 

What is your tipple?

For many of us the image above will not mean much, you will either take it or leave it, or maybe instead you will prefer a glass of wine or even a spirit.

I have to be honest I have never really given the amount of alcohol that I drink a thought, How much alcohol can you drink before you become drunk or worse still not in control of your actions?  I have so far been lucky that I have not got any tales of woe from over drinking.  However, I have found a handy self assessment tool here and it suggests that I should cut down, have a quick look yourself and see what it recommends for you.

Why am I talking about alcohol? sadly it has been on my mind all week (maybe a sign) because I had attended a conference early this week at the Institute of Child Health in London.  The subject was about Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders a subject I have to be honest about prior to the conference, I was not particularly confident on.  Furthermore, my interest was from a social work perspective and the impact of this on the young people I work with namely those 14 – 18 years old.

However, what I quickly learnt was that it has been a very long time since I have studied my social biology or even any neuro sciences.  What I did gather though, was that the body remains addicted to alcohol in a way that celebrates overcoming this poison.  Furthermore this is passed down from generation to generation.  It is also important to point out that the effect of alcohol has a different impact upon different people.

So from a social work perspective the key points were around the child development and the associated behaviours that come with this.  It is an interesting subject that if assessed correctly by the social worker/midwife could help early diagnosis and also a better treatment for the young person and also a better support plan for the long term permanence plan for the child.

For young people that have to live with this syndrome they could have with it cognitive difficulties, attachment difficulties, ADHD, ASD all with varying degrees.  And for social workers, care workers, foster carers these are all things that we will be very familiar with.  However, the difference is that if you can understand the history and the behaviours and with the right support maybe where placements become strained due to the behaviour then perhaps they may not break down.  Meaning better outcomes for the young person who with the support of their family or carer can achieve with a valid support from the right agencies.

At present there is not a massive known support and diagnosis is only accurate if during pregnancy the Mum shares her alcohol usage.  So for more information on FAS please read here.