In my nearly 30 years of practice as a social worker, I can say that the situation on the ground for social workers is worse than it has ever been.Oh, here we go, hankies at the ready…
Social workers dedicate their lives to preventing the abuse of children, and sometimes, sadly, this is not possible. Child protection is an extremely complicated process – not only does it require very finely tuned and skilled decisions to be made, they have to be made within a detailed legislative framework. Contrary to the portrayal of social work in EastEnders, social workers do not simply pop by and check that everything is all right within a household, and whisk a child away at the drop of a hat if it isn't.And some would say that that’s part of the problem. If there’s a more dysfunctional family than the one prortayed in ‘Eastenders’ I’d hate to see it. The poor (fictional) sprog would stand a better chance if it were raised by wolves…
Social workers spend the majority of their time navigating laborious and unwieldy data-collection systems… Most people would be astonished to see the amount of paperwork and form-filling we do.Not really, no. They passed ‘astonishment’ long ago when looking at the police service’s paperwork burden.
And what caused both of these? Well, you seem to have hit the nail on the head, inadvertently:
Social work often feels like a virtual computer game where you have to complete stage 1 to move to stage 2. You are no longer able to use your own professional judgment.That’s because so many of you have been found to have none!
You've ignored obvious cases of cruelty, either because you gave too much credence to ‘cultural issues’ or because you were incompetent or lazy. You've persecuted the innocent while ignoring the evil. The ‘unnecessary form filling’ that you complain about is part of your job because you are granted enormous power, and you must be accountable for its use.
Just like the police.
What’s the alternative?
The police probably hold more information pertinent to child protection than any other agency as they attend more out-of-hours incidents concerning a family, but their information sharing can be patchy. Police can be reluctant to share information concerning children for a number of reasons: criminal proceedings may be ongoing, they may have "soft" evidence garnered from intelligence rather than hard facts, there may be a surveillance operation under way.And note, this is all one way. Do YOU share information with the police?
Or do you hide it from them, as you do when you are seeking to foster damaged children?
Cases such as Rochdale show what can happen when police and social services do not properly share information about children.No, cases such as Rochdale show what happens when everyone’s too deathly afraid of ‘cultural issues’ and stirring up the Muslim 'community' to intervene. It has nothing to do with information sharing at all.
While I welcome attention being focused on tackling problems within our child protection system, the impetus for change will lead to little positive improvement if social workers who act day to day to protect children and help improve their lives are not listened to.But we've listened to you. You've whined that you think it’s ‘unfair’ that you should be held accountable when you foul up. You've shown little shame when caught bang to rights, simply returning again and again to argue that, despite a child dying, you’re the ‘victim’ here.
We've listened. We just reject what you have to say.