In the press this week is the publication of the House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee - Third Report on Looked-after Children. Press coverage has focused on earlier intervention by removal into care, the inadequacies of foster placements and a possible shift towards residential homes for children.
However the report is vast and there are a number of insightful conclusions, for example the proposition that the focusing of the efforts of social workers onto child protection is driven by resource constraints and public perception of the profession, and is less than ideal. The report concludes that this has the effect of distracting attention from the potential of social work to effect positive change in families, and makes the stakes of interaction too high (the fear that social work=removal into care). The report recommends that social workers should be freed up to work with families before problems become acute, and raises concerns about the extent to which administrative tasks prevent social workers spending time with families. Many social workers are likely to welcome a move back towards 'proper' social work - the business of getting out and working with families rather than form filling - helping struggling families to get along, rather than taking over parenting once things have fallen completely apart.
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