Independent Social Work – Be the Difference

Posted on February 16th, 2010

The Children’s Workforce Development Council’s ‘Be the Difference’ Campaign has received mixed reviews from Independent Social Workers at Avocet.  The campaign highlights the need for more Social Workers, more funding, and more training – but is it sufficient?

The campaign has had a large amount of publicity, with Television and newspaper advertising alongside a well constructed website.  The public side of the campaign aims to recruit more Social Workers, and offers help and advice for those who want to ‘Be the Difference’.

The campaign takes testimonials from current Social Workers, and career advice to help prospective Social Workers in their decisions to start a career in Social Work.  It offers information for graduates, undergraduates and people looking to return to Social Work.

‘Be the Difference’ has also highlighted the need for a Social Work College, a view also carried by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW).  The aim is to build a UK College of Social Work around the BASW code of ethics.  The subsequent training provided by the National College is intended to raise the standards of Social Work across the UK.

But is a Social Work College enough?  Avocet Independent Social Workers recognise that there is also a pressing need for more support for Social Workers post qualification.  If the CWDC and BASW could advocate for an equal commitment to helping those who already work in Social Work then they could make a real difference.

The problems faced by Social Workers, such as unmanageable case loads and inadequate systems of work need to be addressed with as much importance as recruitment of new staff.  Improving the working conditions of Social Workers across the UK will prompt an increase in the effectiveness of Social Work staff.  This, in turn, can only lead to an increase in the standards of Social Work.

Avocet offer a variety of Independent Social Work assessments including section 7 reports and Kinship and Viability assessments.   Avocet can provide the most suitable Independent Social Worker for your needs.


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How alcohol affects children and young babies

Posted on February 4th, 2010

Community Care magazine published an interesting article on 28th January 2010 on the affects of alcohol, particularly the link between alcohol consumption by women during pregnancy and Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The article highlights the difficulties identifying the cause of low IQ, learning disorders, attention problems, speech and language and behaviour problems. The issue for all Independent Social Workers is whether these ‘symptoms’, to use a medical model, are caused by the affects of mothers drinking alcohol or if they are linked to medical conditions and neglect during the early stages of childhood.

Avocet Independent Social Workers are encouraged to assess the impact of alcohol on a mother and unborn child from a holistic approach. Through work with teenage girls, Avocet Independent Social Workers are aware that excessive alcohol use may lead young females to engage in unprotected sexual intercourse, leading to pregnancy and/or the contraction of a sexually transmitted infection. The use of alcohol by young women creates the risk of them engaging in risk taking activities. Avocet Independent Social Workers take the approach within our assessments of trying to understand a woman’s attitude to alcohol. We ask whether the woman drinks alone, with friends or a parent; is the use of alcohol everyday or in binges, brought about by happy or sad feelings? For example does the mother consume alcohol before she drives the children to school, creating the risk of a potentially fatal accident? Does the mother drink alcohol with her partner, contributing to the root cause of incidents of domestic violence, creating additional risk to the unborn baby or small child, who could be injured during the alcohol fuelled arguments?   This information provides Avocet Independent Social Workers with an understanding of the mother’s thought processes in relation to drinking alcohol and enables a Social Worker to analyse the risk to an unborn baby or young child from their mother’s pattern of alcohol consumption. The social aspect of a mother misusing alcohol with her partner will almost certainly make it harder for her to alter the behaviour and protect her children from the risk of long term harm.

Avocet Independent Social Work assessments also focus on the financial impact of a parent misusing alcohol as it may create a lack of money within the family to purchase clothes and food or inclusion of children in social events, such as school trips. The family income may be spent on alcohol rather than rent, increasing the risk of families moving house or living in temporary accommodation. These issues create additional risks to a child with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder if appointments for speech and language therapy are sent to the wrong address or the child is not seen consistently by the same doctor to assess their needs over a period of time.

It is clear from the article in Community Care that alcohol can have an affect on an unborn baby’s development through Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which along with other aspects associated with alcohol misuse is considered in Avocet Independent Social Worker assessments.


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Children’s Society survey provides an interesting insight for Independent Social Workers.

Posted on February 3rd, 2010

The Children’s Society revealed the results of its ‘Well-being’ survey yesterday, and received widespread media coverage.  Whilst it did not delve deep into some of the problems seen by Independent Social Workers, it did provide some useful findings.

The survey centred on the happiness of children in school years 6, 8 and 10.  The children were asked various questions regarding their happiness, and what affects this.  The children gave their answers on a scale of 1-10.  The survey consisted of 100 questions,

The main findings from the survey were that family conflicts affect children’s happiness more than family structure.  20% of the variation in the children’s happiness could be attributed to family conflicts.  This is compared to 2% being down to family structure.

Whilst it is unlikely to change the way in which child focused Social Workers work, it may aid their understanding of a child’s feelings. Independent Social Workers may have already noticed this pattern, and having this information available could aid Social Workers in the preparation of Core Assessments, and Section 7 and 37 Reports and in chairing Family Group Conferences.

Bob Reitemeier, the Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said of the report; “Family Conflict emerges in this study as a major cause of childhood unhappiness, and so it is vital that families can get the sort of family mediation and counselling The Children’s Society offers to help them resolve and avoid conflicts.”

Avocet Independent Social Workers provide a wide range of Social Work Services to Local Authorities, Solicitors, Courts and other organisations.  Our child focused approach enables us to provide Court Reports, Viability Assessments, Core Assessments and Kinship Assessments to a high standard.


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