SASW Briefing to Justice Committee on Stage 2 Children (Scotland) Bill
Briefing for Justice Committee: Amendment 65 at Stage 2 Children (Scotland) Bill
Scottish Association of Social Work 22nd June 2020
The Scottish Association of Social Work is the largest professional association for social workers in Scotland. We are here to promote the best possible social work services for all people who need them, while also securing the wellbeing of social workers. Many of our members include social workers working in the field of children and families, who have extensive knowledge and frontline expertise of how significant changes like those outlined in this bill will affect the families and young people they work with.
The purpose of this briefing is to highlight our support for the following amendment:
65 In section 8, page 15, line 9, at end insert –
Only a social worker registered with the Scottish Social Services Council may be appointed as a child welfare reporter
SASW wishes to reinforce the significance of the role of the Child Welfare Reporter in the court process, in ensuring that children’s views are heard and represented accurately. This requires an ability to communicate with children using a range of methods, as well as an understanding of child development, the legal system and the dynamics of domestic abuse and its impact on children. SASW strongly believes that social workers are best placed to fulfil this role, and, as we have previously highlighted, that this must be regulated and overseen by a similar arrangement to that currently in place for safeguarders. This will help to ensure consistency across Scotland, appropriate training and standardisation of costs, as well as more equal access to the service across the country which is in the best interest of vulnerable children and young people.
Why are social workers best placed to fulfil the role of child welfare reporter?
Communication with children and young people is at the heart of child and family social work. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) sets an important legal standard for how we consider children and young people and the significance of social workers’ communication with them. Article 12 establishes the child’s right to express their view in all matters that affect their lives and for these views to be given weight according to the child’s age and stage of maturity. The rights of children and young people are fundamental to the Codes of Practice for Social Service Workers, which requires that workers ‘must protect and promote the rights and interests of people who use services and carers (SSSC, 2016). [i]
Social workers are highly skilled and experienced in assessing and reporting the needs of children and young people. The function of the Child Welfare Reporter closely resembles that of Family Court Advisor in Cafcass (England). According to the Cafcass website, applicants for this role “require applicants to have a minimum of 3-years post qualified experience, including experience of working with highly vulnerable children and families. You will be an expert in safeguarding, child engagement, inter-agency working, case analysis, planning and recording[ii]” The same experience is required for Cafcass Cymru’s Family Court Advisers. SASW believes this to be a welcome step by other home UK nations, in ensuring that vulnerable children and young people receive the best possible and most appropriate support through what can be a traumatic and troubling time.
The significance of having qualified and regulated professionals supporting children and young people through the court process cannot be understated. SASW urges Justice Committee members to support Amendment 65, in the name of Liam McArthur, at Stage 2.
For more information contact:
National Director, Scottish Association of Social work
Communications & Policy Officer, Scottish Association of Social Work