Children’s social work under immense pressure Committee report finds

justice-2The Education Committee has stated in its report published on 13th July 2016 that ‘Chidren and families social work is under severe stress and Government proposals for social work reform have significant weaknesses’. The report states:

7. ‘We welcome the Government’s commitment to the important area of children and families social work, and its focus on strengthening social work practice and improving outcomes for children and young people. The proposed reforms have the potential to make some significant improvements to the sector. During our inquiry, however, we heard some concerns about particular aspects. This Report concentrates on these areas of concern’. Read at source: here

Read the report summary: here
Read the report conclusions and recommendations: here
Read the full report – Social work reform: here

About the Government’s Social Work Reform Agenda

The Government presented its approach to a “radical programme of reform” to transform the care that children receive: Department for Education, Education select committee memorandum: social work reform (January 2016) para 1. Three central aims were set out:

  1.  Improving the skills and capacity of the social work workforce at all levels;
  2.  Creating working environments for them in which quality, innovation and efficiency are key to developing the very best work with children and families; and
  3.  Streamlining governance and accountability, so that both are leaner and more robust, better able to identify problems and put them right.

On 14 January 2016, the Department for Education published a policy paper called Children’s social care reform: a vision for change. The reform programme has been structured around three areas:

  1. People and leadership – bringing the best people into the profession, and giving them the right knowledge and skills for the incredibly challenging but hugely rewarding work we expect them to do, and developing leaders equipped to nurture practice excellence.
  2. Practice and systems – creating the right environment for excellent practice and innovation to flourish.
  3. Governance and accountability – making sure that what we are doing is working, using data to show us strengths and weaknesses in the system, and developing innovative new organisational models with the potential to radically improve services.

A more detailed policy paper, entitled Putting children first: delivering a vision for excellent children’s social care, was published on 4 July 2016.

The Government announced the Children and Social Work Bill in the 2016 Queen’s Speech: Passage of the Bill.

Two of the stated purposes of the Children and Social Work Bill are to enable:

  1. better learning about effective approaches to child protection and children’s social care;
  2. the establishment of a new social work regulatory regime. Both these purposes relate to proposals in the Government’s reform strategy.

Education Committee Report

The Report is divided into six main parts which can be downloaded below:

  • Chapter 2 examines how Government is implementing the new reforms, co-ordinating across different Departments, and consulting with the social work profession: The role of central government
  • Chapter 3 considers the changes to initial training with the expansion of accelerated schemes and how these could be improved: Initial training
  • Chapter 4 looks at post-qualifying training and what the Government could do to improve the provision of continuing professional development for children and families social workers: Post-qualifying training
  • Chapter 5 examines retention problems in children and families social work and the lack of Government focus in this area: Retention
  • Chapter 6 considers the loss of the College of Social Work and the future of a professional body for social work, and looks at the Government plans for regulatory change and practice leadership: Professional body, regulation and leadership
  • Chapter 7 looks at the Government plans for structural change in children’s services by introducing more innovation and increasing the role of independent trusts and whether this is the best approach: Structural change and innovation
  • Chapter 8: Conclusions and recommendations

Other relevant publications

ADCS: Press Release ADCS Annual Conference 2016 Presidential Address

BBC News: Action urged over social workers’ loads

Children and Young People Now: ADCS Conference: Trowler defends social work bill ‘exemption’ clause

Children and Young People New: Scope of major children’s services review set out

Community Care: Government social work reforms could destabilise ‘fragile’ workforce, say MPs

Guardian: Government plans to reform social work could make services worse, say MPs

Storify: Children and Social Work Bill

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