Starting a career in Social Services
My youngest daughter has just started on her career to become a social worker. She is passionate, committed with strong values and wants desperately to make a difference. I am so proud of her but also concerned for her. She is entering a Local Authority system that is so short of funds that it is forced to react to crises rather than help families and their children to improve their lives. I know about the impact of austerity through my work as CEO of seAp Advocacy and the continuous cuts to our services are all over the press. The impact of limited resources is that Local Authorities prioritise their statutory work above prevention. The Local Government Association (LGA), ADASS and Association of Directors of Children’s Services are all lamenting the fact that they are forced to behave counter-intuitively and wait until there is a crisis before they can intervene. That is not making a difference—that’s a sticking plaster. That is putting the social workers and their managers at risk trying to support children and families with their hands tied behind their backs.
The government response is that they have put billions into Local Authority coffers. So who are we to believe? Are the professionals lying? Is this project fear? fake news? Sadly this is not only happening in Children’s Services but across all public services—criminal justice, prisons, older people, mental health, learning disability, the list goes on. Not only are we letting those who need the services down, but we are also letting our young people down by not supporting them to deliver high quality services that they are being trained in.
What really worries me for my daughter and the other graduate trainees is that they will be blamed if something goes wrong. The headline in the Observer on Sunday was the concern expressed by the LGA that nothing will be done until there is another Baby P. The cost of that on the baby, society and the wellbeing of social workers is immense. The Quality Matters Board is dedicated to raising quality standards and improving the image of social care to attract more people. Although some quality standards do not require money, most do require adequate funds. I am hoping that my daughter has a long career in social services but that will only happen if she is cared for, is practicing in a safe environment and provided with the tools she needs to really improve people’s lives.