Thursday, 25 February 2016

The changed relationship between social workers and families

by Maggie Mellon, (BASW Vice Chair)

"I believe that suspicion of parents and of families has become corrosive, and is distorting the values of our profession. For the last 20 plus years the number of investigations or assessments into families suspected of child abuse has climbed steadily upwards and now accounts for one in 20 families in England and Wales... "

"Despite there being no significant rise in the number of children who die as a result of parental abuse or neglect, risk of abuse is assumed to be high. What does this say about how social workers view parents and families? And, just as importantly, what must it tell us about how parents view contact with social services? I believe that the evidence is mounting of mutual distrust and fear. Lauren Devine and Stephen Parker, the authors of this analysis, and other critics of current social work practice, suggest that need has become conflated with risk, and that child protection has become inseparable from family work. The assumption in any contact with families is that risk is probable and must be screened for. No matter how many assessments find no grounds for child protection measures, the number of assessments continue to climb."

"There can be no doubt that many families are suffering. Need and poverty are rising, as work doesn’t pay, benefits are cut or stopped without any assessment of risk to children, homes are insecure, and warmth is a luxury. Child protection from hunger, cold and misery is certainly not on the government agenda. And yet what used to be a major focus of social workers – empathising with and supporting people facing personal and social adversities, drawing attention to injustices and inequalities and needs – has now almost disappeared in this area of work... "

"That is the reason behind BASW hosting a visit to England and Scotland from David Tobis of Maestral International, who brings a message from New York, a city that contains even greater extremes of inequality. Tobis is author of From Pariahs to Partners, which describes the journey taken to challenge and change policy and practice in New York where rates of children in foster care were soaring, and was in fact putting children at more risk than they were in their own homes..."

Read more

No comments:

Post a Comment