Trowler calls for greater early help role for social workers

Adam Offord
Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Chief children's social worker for England Isabelle Trowler wants to see social workers more involved in supporting families in early help settings.

Speaking at an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Children meeting this week, Trowler said that Ofsted inspections had shown that getting social workers involved earlier could help reduce the numbers of children in care.

Giving evidence to the APPG's inquiry on children's social care, Trowler said social workers have "a big part to play" in supporting other professionals working in early intervention services.

"I'd like to see more social workers in early help settings," she said.

"Just because there are social workers around doesn't mean that it suddenly becomes statutory activity, it just means we have people who are confident in undertaking assessment and helping think through what should happen with families.

"Social work has a big part to play in this public service landscape and we can offer professional support at any point actually within the need of risk."

She added that Ofsted's inspection of early help services in 2015 gave some "harsh messages" about early help but also produced "examples of great practice".

"I had a quick look at the number of authorities that had managed to reduce the numbers of children in care since 2011," Trowler said. "It was around 40, [which] indicates that there are some effective things that are taking place in the system.

"There are authorities like Leeds, Essex and North Yorkshire, again using particular practice methodologies that are having significant impact on their care populations."

Trowler also highlighted the importance of reforms to social worker training, stating that a national post-qualification accreditation is the "key check and balance" proving that those with statutory responsibilities for at-risk children have the necessary skills and knowledge.

"Critically, for me, this is not just at practitioner level, but also more senior levels of the profession," she said.

"We need to ensure the top 100 or so people in our profession have what it takes."

The session on "early help for vulnerable children and early intervention services" was the fifth of six scheduled for the group's inquiry, with a report due to be published early next year. It is co-chaired by Tim Loughton MP and Baroness Howarth of Breckland.

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