Are Independent Social Workers just an ‘expensive part of the landscape’?

Posted on August 13th, 2010

It is a little over a month since Ms Marion Davis, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services released a statement regarding the use of Independent Social Workers during court proceedings.

Ms Davis was quoted in an article for Community Care as saying, “Independent Social Workers are just some of the enormous number of people checking on what Social Workers do”. Ms Davis was asked if the absence of Independent Social Workers in court proceedings would have an impact on court proceedings, to which she replied, “I can’t think of one”.

It seems a rather short-sighted statement for Ms Marion Davis to make that Independent Social Workers should cease to play a role in the court process and extremely unfair to suggest that they are just another group of people ‘checking on’ and having a ‘detrimental effect’ on Social Work practice.  Independent Social Workers are colleagues and partners of Local Authority front line Social Workers; working in collaboration in a society that currently vilifies the Social Work profession as a whole.

In other words a Social Worker is a Social Worker and the fact that a growing number of Social Workers wish to practice independently and not remain within the constraints of Local Authority bureaucratic managerialism is possibly a symptom of a profession that has lost faith in a government that really does not understand what it is all about.  The majority of Independent Social Workers have been Local Authority Social Workers themselves and are therefore well aware of the overwhelming and unmanageable case loads faced by many Social Workers, who consequently find themselves unable to meet deadlines and timescales.  Avocet understands only too well that it is more often than not the system that hinders Social Workers from carrying out their role to the best of their ability so you certainly would not find an Avocet Independent Social Worker setting out to ‘undermine Social Workers’ professional judgement’.

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Social Work Task Force report signals change for Social Workers

Posted on December 3rd, 2009

‘Building a Safe, Confident Future – The Final Report of the Social Work Task Force’ was published yesterday, prompting a large amount of media coverage for Social Workers.  The report, which was commissioned a year after of the death of Baby Peter, has already been accepted in a Government response yesterday.

Children’s Secretary Ed Balls hoped that “something good” would come out of the Baby Peter case.  He added “We won’t rest until we know that we have the best standards of Social Work, not just in some places, but everywhere in the country.”

Some of the issues discussed in the report featured how Social Workers prioritise their time and how they are supervised.   The report also aimed to look at the changes needed to ensure that all vulnerable children have access to front line Social Work staff and support staff.

A reform of the Social Work Career Structure was recommended, with a higher pay scale for senior Social Work staff.  Another recommendation from the report was that of a National College of Social Work, which would aid the introduction of a reformed system of initial Social Work Training.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham commented that this format worked well for Nurses and Midwives, and is hoping that the reforms will entice more potential Social Workers to join the profession.

If the changes are implemented quickly and efficiently then, coupled with a reduction in the amount of bureaucracy, they could complement the Child Focused Social Work approach.

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