BASW initial response to the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care
The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care (May 2022) makes recommendations that are wide-ranging, systemic and structural. It will be judged on whether its recommendations are both credible and realistic in tackling the deep problems in the children’s social care system.
BASW is committed to improving social work practice and the lives of children and families. As child welfare professionals and as a society, we must find the best ways to ensure children are receiving the support and protection they need and deserve.
All Reviews, critical analyses and research often highlight areas of learning and challenge, they are ultimately welcome. However, they must also be judged in the contexts, circumstances, and political climate in which they have been undertaken.
Unfortunately, many of our members have not experienced the Review process as inclusive and told us that they are concerned about the separation of services and the life journey of a child not being seen as part of a continuum.
They are also worried about the further privatisation of services and the many covert ways this can be achieved. As a professional association we are committed to embracing system change for the good of children and families when this is informed by evidence.
The wellbeing, welfare and best interests of children must be paramount, and the government must provide long term sustainable investment to all parts of children social care, including Early Help and a renewed focus on recruitment and retention of social workers and social care workforce.
Specific roles in social work
There are many areas of social work, specific disciplines and roles, experiences and skills, that will be affected by this Review.
In the following days, weeks and coming months, we will be consulting with our social work membership on all of these areas to ensure that the final report matches the realities of social work practice experiences.
The journey from recommendation to attempted implementation will be long and we shall follow, analyse, and comment on it at all stages – guided of course, by our members.
We want to ensure that recommendations and solutions are robust, evidence-informed, and routed in fairness, social justice, children's rights, and anti-oppressive practice.
In the immediate media coverage after publication on Monday 23/05/2022, BASW engaged with several outlets including the BBC, Sky News, ITV news and local TV news channels and radio stations.
Without a full analytical look at the 278-page document, having only received it 24hrs prior to publication, BASW cautiously welcomed some of the aims of the Review – namely to develop and advance the children’s social care system, to put children’s needs and voices at the heart of planning and to support and develop the social work workforce.
However, in all our media engagement we consistently emphasised these changes will only be possible with an end to unfeasibly high workloads, inconsistent supervision and mentoring, and poor career and development pathways which drive desperately needed experienced people out of the profession.
We were also consistent in wanting real government action on family poverty, housing stress and inequality. Public service austerity has not only driven social care services to breaking point it has fundamentally undermined social protection for the poorest and most marginalised.
While tackling poverty and funding cuts are in the Review report, it needs to be unequivocal in asking Government to act on poverty and structural underfunding of preventive and universal services which is increasing demand on social services and inequalities between areas.