The recently announced ‘Independent Review of Children’s Social Care’ is the latest in a succession of reviews relating to social work with children and families. All have aimed to offer fundamental reforms to improve the experience of service users and to strengthen social work. This event will consider the lessons that can be learned from three previous reviews of policy and practice in this area published between 2007 and 2011 and ask what those processes can contribute to the latest review:
- Conservative Party Commission on Social Workers (2007) No More Blame Game: The Future for Children’s Social Workers
- Social Work Task Force (2009) Building a Safe, Confident Future: The Final Report of the Social Work Task Force
- Munro, E. (2011) The Munro Review of Child Protection: Final Report
Tim Loughton MP chaired the Conservative Party Commission on Social Workers in his position as Shadow Minister for Children. The Commission brought together a range of social work experts representing local authorities, the charity sector and academia. It made several recommendations to improve training, recruitment and public perceptions of social work that were implemented in subsequent years including the appointment of a Chief Social Worker. Tim went on to serve as Children’s Minister in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government between 2010 and 2012. He remains actively involved in this area of policy and is the co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children.
Andrew Webb was deputy chair of the Social Work Task Force set up under the Labour Government following the death of Peter Connelly (Baby P). The task force set-out a comprehensive ten-year reform programme with implementation led initially by the Social Work Reform Board and then the short-lived College of Social Work set-up in 2012. Andrew began his career in social work in 1976 and spent his working life in local authorities, retiring in 2018 from his position as Director of Children’s and Adult’s Services in Stockport. He served as the President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services between 2012 and 2013. Andrew remains actively involved in social care and is a board member of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory.
Professor Eileen Munro was commissioned to lead a review of child protection following the 2010 election and the establishment of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government. Her report highlighted excessive rules and procedures imposed on child and family social workers, calling for greater autonomy as part of a shift from a ‘compliance to a learning culture’ in child protection. The implementation of key recommendations including a major reduction in national regulations, giving more flexibility to local services, and the appointment of Principal Child and Family Social Workers provide examples of the report’s lasting impact. Eileen is an Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics. She has published extensive research relating to the English child welfare system and is currently involved in research examining the implementation of the Signs of Safety practice framework.
Chair: Dr Carl Purcell is a Research Associate in the Health and Social Care Workforce Research Unit within the Policy Institute at King’s College London. He is the author of ‘The Politics of Children’s Services Reform: Re-examining Two Decades of Policy Change’ published by Policy Press in 2020, available at: https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/the-politics-of-childrens-services-reform