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BASW condemns “scandal” of unsupported child protection workers

BASW has today slammed the current situation in child protection as a national scandal in the Association’s submission to Professor Munro’s independent review of child protection.

Welcoming the review, BASW highlights that there is compelling evidence to show that good social work and effective child protection systems save children’s lives.

However, the submission warns that more children are being put at risk because social workers are being prevented from doing social work and experienced and dedicated practitioners are being driven out of the profession.

“Frankly it is a national scandal that so many social work professionals are not properly supported to undertake the very complex yet highly rewarding task of protecting children,” said Hilton Dawson, BASW chief executive. “Social workers must be supported and empowered by both the State and society to do the job that they have been trained for, rather than be defeated by the gross inadequacies that are plaguing the current system.”

“It is a credit to the social work profession that so much excellent work with children, young people and their families is carried out because of the commitment and determination of individual social workers, and despite the current system,” he added.

In its submission, BASW calls for:

• Better alliances between practitioners, parents, carers and the general public

• A sustained campaign of public information about child abuse and the role of social work

• The assessment framework to be overhauled

• Social workers to have more direct work with service users

The submission also highlights that BASW actively encourages social workers to talk to the media, saying that it is “ironic” that there are often barriers preventing social workers from engaging with the media when they possess excellent inter-personal skills.

BASW’s submission concludes that there needs to be a career structure which rewards and supports social workers to remain in front-line practice. It says there should be a new child protection system that values the profession which, it argues, must be backed by a College of Social Work, led by and accountable to the profession with a compelling influence upon standards of training, continuing professional development and the employment of social workers.

“Children have an absolute right to be protected and enabled to develop to their full potential,” said Hilton Dawson. “Their best interests should be of paramount importance for this and any society. Nothing is more important for the wellbeing of thousands of children in England today than that child protection social work and effective child protection systems are given priority for development even at a time when public spending is having to be considerably reduced.”

“Good social work and effective child protection systems have achieved major reductions in child deaths over the past 30 years,” he added, concluding: “While we recognise the realities of the current financial crisis it is imperative that social work is given priority for development and growth to ensure that progress is maintained and that the lives of children are saved.”

The Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove and Children and Families minister Tim Loughton asked Professor Eileen Munro to conduct an independent review to improve child protection at the front line in June 2010. The final report and recommendations will be produced by April 2011.