A lot of mileage over the past couple of days here in the press following the attention which has put the profession into the spotlight following the ‘Baby P’ case which has villified both individual social workers and the profession as a whole.
Without wanting or being able to judge individuals, it is quite interesting to see the press reaction to the failings in a particular case and in a peculiar system. Perhaps it is an unfortunately presented opportunity to put the profession into the public consciousness and to examine what it is that makes a social worker and what it takes to become one. Possibly a theme I’ll return to at some point.
British Association of Social Workers, said his members were tired of being made a political football, damned for intervening too much or too little depending on the circumstances of the latest case to hit the headlines., chief executive of the
As well as a comment piece explaining the place of social work in child protection cases (the comments to that piece make quite salutary reading).
The Independent also runs comment piece on the support that is needed for social work and some of the shortcomings in the system.
Social work has always been a Cinderella service, underpaid, understaffed and under-resourced. Social work does not enjoy the reputation and intellectual standing of medicine nor the national pay scales and career path of teachers. A social worker with 10 years’ experience will be lucky to earn over £30,000. The result is that the most difficult and damaged children end up being looked after by the least able and worst paid staff.
I wasn’t sure whether to leave that last line in. It grates a little to be classified as ‘least able’ but I then considered that all opinions are valid and I shouldn’t be too defensive in the face of errors having been made.
The Times also presents an interesting piece reflecting on some of the initial errors of judgement that might have focused the minds of the social workers involved in this particular incident and concludes that
But no amount of child protection legislation can ever substitute for properly trained professionals knowing how to think straight amid chaos, with strong leadership from their managers.
And Lord Laming speaks, also in the Times, at the conclusion of the Baby P trial.
On a far less lofty level, yesterday, I was chatting to some of the other social workers in my team. We don’t all work in the same office – the joys of multidisciplinary working! We had congregated in one of the offices though and one of the consultants came to find one of us. She chuckled as she referred to the ‘gaggle of social workers’ (there were three of us!) and asked us if we were feeling defensive that morning.
Well, not until you mention it actually.