Children's social care workforce inquiry launches

By Joanne Parkes

| 17 July 2019

An inquiry into children's social work will examine what the workforce needs in order to provide the best help and protection for families, the parliamentary education committee has announced.

Committee chair Robert Halfon said social workers are "vital" for ensuring all children have the best start in life. Image: Parliament.UK

The committee aims to explore "what social work looks like in 2019" - focusing on the capacity of social workers to intervene early, as well as how effectively they can access professional development and support.

The inquiry will also look at how initiatives and reforms to social work training have impacted on the workforce and how far workers are supported to uphold their statutory duties.

Committee chair Robert Halfon cited poor education outcomes for looked after children and repeated removals of children from the same mothers as key issues which social workers are facing, alongside knife crime and mental health problems.

The MP said: "Children, young people and their families receive vital support from social workers. 

"Yet children and their families in receipt of social work support are often those who have the worst outcomes. "

The committee is inviting written submissions on what is needed from social work, and by social workers, specifically, the capacity and ability of social workers to: 

  • Intervene early to help, support and protect children and their families
  • Uphold their responsibilities under relevant legislation
  • Access appropriate and meaningful professional development and support
  • Work with other professionals who play a role in the care of children within the education and health systems 
  • How initiatives and reforms to social work training have impacted on the social work workforce 

The committee said the inquiry is likely to pick up on concerns about the impact of time-pressures on social care work, with increasing reports of time not being available to social workers to properly do their work. 

There is also likely to be a focus on issues such as the causes and impact of high turnover of staff in some social care departments across the country.

Halfon added: "We want to explore what social work looks like in 2019 and examine the skills and support that social workers need to keep children and young people safe from harm and to help them grow up to thrive as adults.

"This inquiry will build on the committee's previous work on fostering, alternative provision and special educational needs, and continue to make the case for greater support for young people as they grow up. 

"We want all children to have the very best start in life, and social workers play vital roles in keeping families together, children and young people safe and providing much needed support." 

The committee said the inquiry will not be able to pursue individual personal cases.

The deadline for written evidence submissions is 30 August 2019.

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