Is there a route into Social Work without a degree?

Posted on May 27th, 2010

An article in the postgraduate queries section of The Independent has received some attention from the Community Care Blog this week. The article focuses on a question from a graduate interested in a career in Social Work.

The graduate asked, “I will be finishing a BA in public service management in December, and would like to go in to Social Work, but I have been told a Masters Degree is the only way. Is this right? Or does my (relevant) degree give me a shortcut?”

The Independent’s answer is quite succinct, and offers some helpful advice for anyone wanting to enter in to Social Work, but one phrase is picked up by the Community Care Blog. The Independent’s answer includes the statement, “The only way to circumvent this process is to secure a role as a trainee Social Worker, in which case you will be seconded to a relevant course and will be earning a reasonable salary.” The Community Care Blog’s concern about this statement was the suggestion that you could ‘circumvent’ the need to obtain a relevant degree in Social Work to practice as a Social Worker.

Whilst the answer is not wrong, they could have avoided any confusion by adding a little more detail to the answer. The Community Care Blog fleshes out the answer a little by suggesting that it would be possible to follow the NVQ in Health and Social Care route. Through this, you could complete the registered manager’s award, enabling you to manage a service in the Social Care sector.

The Independent does confirm that you are required to complete either an undergraduate qualification, or a Masters in Social Work to practice as a Social Worker, but perhaps should have stated that this is now a requirement to be able to register as a Social Worker with the General Social Care Council.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tags: , ,
Filed under Uncategorized | No Comments »

Social Workers Criticised by High Court Judge?

Posted on April 13th, 2010

Lord Justice Wall will be sworn in today as president of the High Court’s Family Division, and The Times heralded his arrival with an interview that criticised and undermined Social Workers across the UK.

The Times’ creative reporting skills showed a quote from Lord Justice Wall with ‘Arrogant Social Workers’ in the headline, somewhat misrepresenting the original sentence. Lord Justice Wall’s statement did indeed criticise the actions of Social Workers, but the comment in question appears to have been taken out of context.

Lord Justice Wall said that Social Workers are ‘Perceived by many as the arrogant and enthusiastic removers of children from their parents into an unsatisfactory care system, and as trampling on the rights of parents and children in the process.’ Taking the sentence as a whole gives a different insight into the personal views of Lord Justice Wall, who it seems, was actually making an observation of public perceptions.

Lord Justice Wall did precede this however with the startling comment, ‘What Social Workers do not appear to understand is that the public perception of their role is not a happy one.’  In our role as Independent Social Workers we come across others in our profession on a regular basis, and have found that Social Workers are acutely aware of the public’s perception of their work.

The comments from Lord Justice Wall, coupled with those by Lord Justice Aikens in recent days, in which Lord Aikens likened Social Workers in Devon to ‘Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China’ can only be of further detriment to those already demoralised Social Work professionals.  Recent months have seen Social Workers criticised and ridiculed for not acting and removing children from their families, and now criticised for doing the opposite. If Lord Justice Wall is to make a difference in his new role then it might be prudent for him to offer some support to Social Workers, rather than providing ammunition for the media to continue their battering of Social Workers in the UK.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tags: , ,
Filed under Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Local Authorities are offering Innovative Social Worker recruitment

Posted on March 16th, 2010

Recruiting Social Workers has become a real struggle for Local Authorities across the country.  A large amount of bureaucracy, coupled with negative media coverage of the industry has led to a lack of front line Social Workers.  Local Authorities have started to become more and more inventive in ways to aid their recruitment campaigns, with mixed results.

Wiltshire Council faced a shortage of 15 Child Social Workers whilst restructuring their Children and Families Social Care department.  They created an innovative recruitment campaign, called ‘Hidden Gems’.

The campaign involved full colour magazine adverts and a ‘treasure hunt’.  The Council distributed business cards listing the campaign’s web address in public areas, cafes, shopping centres etc, and then gave clues as to their whereabouts on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Other Local Authorities have embraced some of the many new initiatives surrounding Social Work.  The ‘Be the Difference’ campaign, as well as the ‘Grow your own toolkit’ and ‘Stepping into Social Work’ have all been used to increase the numbers of front line Social Workers in the UK.

Avocet offers a unique directory of Independent Social Workers.  Our sophisticated vetting process allows us to work with Local Authorities to ensure that we provide the Social Worker with the most appropriate qualifications and experience to meet the required need.


Tags: , , ,
Filed under Uncategorized | No Comments »

Independent Social Worker guidance should be trusted in the courts.

Posted on March 9th, 2010

The Local Government Association published findings from research this week regarding the treatment of Social Workers in Courts across the country.  The report, carried out in conjunction with Loughborough University, intended to investigate how best to implement findings from Lord Laming’s report into Child Protection.

The report found that members of the judiciary did not trust the evidence given by Social Workers, and would often ask for second opinions from psychiatrists and other professionals.  Avocet Independent Social Workers share the same concern as many Local Authorities that this lack of trust can put children at risk.

The report stated, “The low status afforded to Social Workers was… perceived to impact upon the court decision-making process.  A number of authorities felt courts were refusing applications that Children’s Social Care felt were necessary to protect children.”

The report focused on the treatment of Social Workers in comparison with other professionals.  It found that Social Workers are often required to wait in court an average of 20 hours before being able to give evidence, whilst other professionals, such as hospital consultants are rarely required to spend an entire day waiting in court.   This waiting time can only extend the backlog of work faced by frontline Social Workers.

The report quoted a ‘senior lawyer in child care proceedings’ as saying that lengthy delays could be avoided if the Social Worker’s assessment was taken at ‘face value’,
“If you have a case of neglect involving a mother of 5, who has been a crack cocaine addict for 10 years, do we really need to commission another psychiatric assessment to tell us that she needs to be free of drugs before she can care for her children, which costs thousands of pounds?”

The report could be construed to be removing the option of a fair hearing for parents, but that is not the intention.  In cases where the parents disagree with the application to remove their child, they can request further assessment, for instance by an Independent Social Worker.  The issue is specifically about the courts’ apparent need to validate a Social Workers statement with an assessment by another professional.


Tags: , , ,
Filed under Uncategorized | No Comments »

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.


Tags: , , , ,
Filed under Uncategorized | No Comments »

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.


Tags: ,
Filed under Uncategorized | No Comments »

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.


Tags: , , , , ,
Filed under Uncategorized | No Comments »

Government to offer Fathers Guide to Parenthood

Posted on January 26th, 2010

In The Observer newspaper on Sunday 17th January 2010 it was reported that new fathers will be given a ‘dads guide’ to fatherhood that will cover an explanation of breastfeeding and tips on how to support their partner. Avocet welcomes the news that the government will announce this useful tool for Independent Social Workers and new fathers in their green paper to be published later this week on families and relationships.

Avocet agrees that some government policies can focus on mothers and note that this attitude can be reflected in some Independent Social Work assessments. The green paper echoes the views of Avocet that involving fathers in their children’s early years care is productive for their child’s development as well as helping the couple’s relationship to be more stable.

The guide for new fathers has been written and published by the Fatherhood Institution and could be a useful tool for Independent Social Workers. A manual is also being written for midwives so they can offer support to fathers. Once the pamphlet is published it will be considered in Avocet assessments ensuring fathers know their role in raising their children and ascertaining whether fathers are committed to providing ‘good enough’ parenting to their children thus avoiding the risk of significant harm. A concern of Avocet in relation to the pamphlet is that fathers of all academic levels will need to access the information and it also needs to be aimed at fathers with a learning disability or who have difficulty reading and may not understand the material.

Avocet supports and encourages the inclusion of fathers in all of our assessments, particularly Core Assessments and Section 7 reports. There is research available that demonstrates that children do better at school if their fathers are involved in their education and that children who have contact with a positive role model are less likely to commit criminal offences. Avocet Independent Social Work Parenting Assessments seek to understand and assess the behaviours of both mothers and fathers.

Teachers are also being asked to engage more with fathers, including sending them school reports if a pupil’s parents are separated. Avocet Independent Social Workers would support this action and incorporate working in partnership with teachers whilst completing multiagency Core Assessments and Section 37 reports for Local Authorities and the Court.

Avocet Independent Social Workers are committed to working with mothers and fathers during assessments to consider the best outcomes for children. Avocet deems working equally with father and mothers as an important part of its equality and diversity policy.


Tags: , , ,
Filed under Uncategorized | No Comments »

Independent Social Work Opportunities for a Social Work Team Manager

Posted on January 11th, 2010

Yesterday, SocietyGuardian posted an article in their ‘What Else Can I Do?’ section that caught my eye.  The article centred around Lucy, a 32 year old Social Work Team Manager.  Lucy is looking for a fresh challenge, and contacted SocietyGuardian for ideas on her next Social Work career move.

Lucy currently works for the Connexions service, and SocietyGuardian came up with 5 suggestions for Lucy to look into.  These ranged from becoming a parenting expert for the youth offending service, a project coordinator for Connexions or working with  a local council to develop their ‘Neets’ policies, to working for a not-for-profit organisation or local education service.

Interestingly the first suggestion (Youth Offending Service) picked up on Lucy’s ability with parenting assessments and court reports.  Skills in such assessments can open up opportunities as an Independent Social Worker with Avocet.

Lucy could join Avocet’s Independent Social Worker Directory, to search for the latest Independent Social Work Jobs that Avocet have to offer.

If you find yourself in a position similar to Lucy, and want to make a change for 2010, then contact Avocet Independent Social Workers to become a member of our Independent Social Worker Directory!


Tags: , ,
Filed under Uncategorized | No Comments »

Now it’s even easier to find an Avocet Independent Social Worker

Posted on December 15th, 2009

Avocet’s Independent Social Worker Directory has undergone some subtle changes over the past few weeks, making it easier and quicker for people to find Independent Social Workers and Social Work Jobs alike.

Now on registering, you will be offered the option of becoming a member or a client of Avocet.  Member registration will, subject to approval, give you the benefits of applying for Social Work Jobs across the UK.  Registering as a member of Avocet can open up new opportunities for experienced, child focused Independent Social Workers.  Our unique match maker approval system ensures that we offer you the jobs that best match your skills!

Registering as a client of Avocet can give you extra peace of mind when hiring an Independent Social Worker.  Avocet’s unique approval system ensures that our Independent Social Workers are appropriately qualified, have up to date CRB certificates and are experienced in the field of work you require.

Register today to ensure you benefit from Avocet’s experience!


Tags: , ,
Filed under Uncategorized | No Comments »