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BASW and SWU oppose privatisation of children's social care

BASW and SWU have launched an online petition opposing proposals by the Coalition Government that pave the way for the privatisation of children's social care. The plans are outlined in a consultation document entitled ‘Powers to delegate children’s social care functions’. 
 
To sign our petition click here. BASW and SWU are also urging anyone opposed to the Government's plans to sign a separate online petition 'Do not privatise child protection service' on the Government's e-petition website.
 
 
The protection of children is core to the social work task, and to do so on behalf of society. This is at the heart of the professional outcry to the proposals by the Government to take children's services out of local authority control.
 
The duty to take a child away from their parents and family is a task which should always be held up to public scrutiny, and social workers know that the public has strong feelings both about children who are removed from parental care, and those which are left too long.
 
Of course, the courts play a really important role in the outcome decision making process, as do other professionals, but the mandate that this duty is undertaken on behalf of society is core to the legitimacy of social work. 
 
This is why social workers are so concerned at the government proposals to delegate children’s social care functions.  It is the proposal that third party providers including private organisations will take on this role. 
 
We will not condone any system whereby any private or voluntary organisation can remove a child from its family. The current model whereby the NSPCC, as a named organisation in statute, has exceptional legal powers to take direct legal action to safeguard children is the absolute minimum requirement for the future.
 
The state - the public, you and BASW - we must not wash our hands about protecting children. However uncomfortable the deaths of children are for a Secretary of State and local councillors- we must maintain the joint decision of the state and the courts for the removal from  (and return to)  of children and their families. 
 
What is equally shocking in the proposals is that the people who then care for the children will not be regulated. We can argue over the effectiveness or not of Ofsted and other regulators, but to blatantly propose that the most vulnerable children in our society should be looked after by organisations which are not regulated is outrageous and a damning indictment of this government.
 
We know that regulation alone does not keep vulnerable children or adults safe, but we should at least try.
 
We know that the current stranglehold on local government finance is not the result of austerity measures but of a political mantra in England to reduce the role of the state. This is not the same in the rest of the UK, nor internationally, where the dismantling of our good local government services is examined with disbelief. Why are we just sitting back and watching the dismantling of key building blocks of our civic society?
 
Within the framework of the current legal and political oversight, children are very successfully cared for by many private and voluntary organisations. Although a significant percent of registered social workers are employed in local authorities, many now work in the private and voluntary sectors, and indeed many run their own businesses.
 
As a profession we have no ideological objection to the role of the private and voluntary sector, but we are clear where the role of the state has to remain, and this has to be delivered through local authority services. 
 
Should the current proposals go ahead, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties will never be forgiven by those at the heart of the child protection system- the children, families and the professionals who work with them.