Dear Mr Gove, thank you for your extremely helpful comments on ‘Child Protection‘, which has historically been under resourced, disrespected by the Government and other professionals because of its lack of a status as a ‘Profession’, and by the gross failure in the family courts to respect the experience social workers bring in their long term case work with vulnerable families and their children in order to provide long term safeguards.
I have enjoyed reading other people’s views of the direction Mr Gove wants to take social work from this speech, such as ‘Give over Gove‘ on the socialworkerx blog, and also Andrew Ellery makes good points about ‘Frontline’ for BASW to highlight the anger of the proposals to train the new super social workers from ‘certain’ universities, perhaps creating the biggest contradiction in social work history.
An excellent example of this contradiction can always be found in the Daily Telegraph as recently as the 1st of September 2012 titled ‘Don’t ask your Grandson how his jaw got broken, says Social Workers’, describing how children are ‘ruthlessly taken into care’ and of a young girl who had a ‘ tiff’ with her parents was then taken into care by social workers. But worse than this is the awful term ‘God Syndrome’ which is thrust upon social workers because of this attitude.
It does therefore sadden me that this image is still being portrayed of social work, that those who are vulnerable still require saving from great harm – and that only social workers can do this, descending into the family home creating chaos and distraction to remove confused children.
Children do require protecting from serious harm, they can not be left without love, food, warmth, stimulation, so yes they do require protection and to play down neglect is a serious crime. However, social work can not continue in the contradiction that it currently exists within, created by those in power and those who have the power to influence through the use of the media.
Social work continues to promote reflective practice and research into the very foundation of its practice and understanding evidence of the systemic impact of generational impact of neglect and vulnerabilities; this is still in its infancy, with the social work learning on the degree course and ‘the college of social work‘ and social work continuing professional development.
It does mean Mr Gove that your comments are damaging and unhelpful, baring in mind how some people can see social work as a whole – it appears that Mr Gove wants this to be reinforced with his view of what social workers should be…
“I want social workers to be more assertive with dysfunctional parents’
This reinforces the biggest contradiction of social work practice, that as a social worker I would not want to associate with. Have no fear Mr Gove, as a social worker I have been assertive with parents I have found to be lacking in their care of their children, but the real skill is not to quickly remove the child leaving them scared and confused. Instead it is to help develop their resilience and act upon their wishes, and should this to be removed to a place of safety it should be a place of safety that they have identified. This is a social work skill that can not be taught or even exclusive to certain graduates, but one that is learnt through experience, observation, mentoring, guidance and mistakes.
Young people that are in care should also play an important part in the learning of our practice, they should play an essential part in the recruitment of social workers and other care staff. But as I discussed in my last post ‘Is there any way to improve?‘ the best way to do this is to speak with social workers!
Courtesy of Simply Social Work