57 weeks for a Family Court decision

Posted on August 13th, 2010

It seems ironic that the recent comments about Independent Social Workers by Ms Marion Davis are followed by research highlighting the length of time it takes for Family Court proceedings.  The research by Barnardos shows that an average of 57 weeks pass before a decision is made.

It is over 20 years since the Children Act 1989 set out a system to try to enforce a child focused approach to care proceedings, in which it proposed an optimum case length of 12 weeks.  Whilst a lot has changed in Social Work over the last 20 years, the notion that prolonged court proceedings have a negative effect on the child is perhaps even more relevant today than it ever was.

Some courts are taking an average of 14 months to resolve proceedings, and there does also appear to be a postcode lottery as to how quickly a child’s future can be decided.  Three out of 18 regions completed proceedings in less than 12 months and Family Court Proceedings in London took on average 65 weeks.

A family justice review is being carried out by the Ministry of Justice and a spokesman said: “The government is committed to reducing unnecessary delay in care proceedings.  A family justice review is currently underway gathering evidence on problems in the current system and proposals for change.  The panel leading the review shares Barnardos’ concerns and has met their representatives to discuss suggestions for reform.”

The removal of Independent Social Workers and thereby reducing the amount of support to front line Social Workers would only increase the length of time taken to reach decisions in court.


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15% of Social Work degree students drop out in 2009

Posted on July 26th, 2010

Nearly one in seven Social Work degree students failed to complete their course in 2008-9,
claims a recent General Social Care Council (GSCC) report. The GSCC asked universities
and colleges for the number of students enrolled on to Social Work degree courses. They
also asked for the numbers that did not pass or progress at the end of the academic year.

Community Care analysed the reports, and found that of the 14,550 students enrolled,
2,170 failed to progress on finishing the 2008-9 academic year. It has been suggested that
this figure was not entirely due to academic reasons, with a proportion of the blame being
passed onto other factors such as delayed placements.

Kingston University had the highest non-completion rate of all institutions offering degrees in
Social Work. Edge Hill University was the only institution to report a 100% completion rate,
which may be due to the small size of the course with only 25 students in 2008-9.

Other suggested factors are illness and maternity leave. Professor of Social Work Jill
Manthorpe, who is also the director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s
College said “Our work has shown that the non-completion rate is a complex interaction
between institutional and student factors.”


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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.

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