Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Social work practice in an age of austerity

"Many families are moving from deprivation to destitution – dependent on insecure and heavily rationed help from food banks and charitable clothing stores, in awful private sector rented housing. Housing benefit changes have relocated families away from support network. The response to the economic situation has been to cut the help available through, for example, Sure Start."

"At the same time, targets have been set to get more children adopted and adopted more quickly. Target chasing in this area is having a clear impact on social work practice."

Culture of fear and accountability
"Secondly, and in part a consequence of the factors noted above, over the past six years there has been a considerable increase in child protection activity, impinging on social workers and all agencies and professionals working with children and families."

"Section 47 child protection investigations are up by 60%, child protection plans up by 50%, and care proceedings applications up by 104%. The consequence is that workflows have to be rapid and cases closed down quickly if at all possible, otherwise workloads become large, workers stressed and corners cut."

"All of this is within the context of a culture of professional fear fed by serious case reviews, with the government wanting more reviews – each to be publicly available – allocating ‘accountability’ (blame), with Ofsted looming on the horizon to give its damning ratings of ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’..."

"But the situation will become much more tenuous and fragile if the next government continues the current drive towards opening children’s social work up to the market place, with private sector outsourcing companies positioning themselves to grab contracts."

"The market does not generate stability or continuity."

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