Comments for en-gb 30 Tue 21 Apr 2015 13:49:00 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at Derick no comment Wed 20 May 2009 23:39:40 GMT+1 Derick it's eye tea - no comment Wed 20 May 2009 23:38:58 GMT+1 disgruntledveteran Is it any wonder that social workers are held in such low esteem? The profession is riddled with do-gooding,PC, left wing,nonentities. "Retarded homophobes" ring any bells? No one should be allowed to become a social worker unless they have worked elsewhere, married and raised a family. That way they would have a lot more understanding, judgement and wisdom than most of the current crop. I used to work for Social Services and was horrified at the number of young girls straight from college who were dealing with families without practial understanding.Is it any wonder that Baby P and Victoria Climbie died? Fri 15 May 2009 14:34:24 GMT+1 whitedistinguished When I was qualifying in the 1970's, the wake up call to us social workers was that there were one or two deaths of children through abuse every week. 40 years on, the rate of such deaths appears to be... one or two a week.Though I am reluctant to conclude that the last 40 years of jaw dropping efforts by hundreds of thousands of civil servants, legislators, agencies and practitioners has been a waste of time, it's a bit hard to resist.If you spent time in any "Reception and Assessment" team you would immediately be struck by the stream of new reports of poor treatment of children. Several a day, day in, day out.The one or two who might get killed in your area this decade do not have a helpful sign saying "I'm the one you must save". They are in with hundreds of other children, also living clearly miserable lives, every one demanding shed-loads of visits, assessments, communications, meetings and calculation, all the time trying your damnedest to improve their lives. Taking more than a few into care as a precaution (it's called "into accommodation" these days) is not an option. There's no consensus for it, certainly not remotely enough resources and funds. And most of the children being 'protected' would probably not thank us for the direction their lives then took.So we preside over what is, in effect, a grim lottery.The collective outrage over each child death is understandable but worse than futile. The unlucky child is accompanied by a set of unlucky professionals who are all ruined, after they have been roasted for a while by enquiries, politicians, disciplinary panels and the media.Nobody admits that they too would quickly find themselves compromised if they took a post as a worker or manager in R and A. Even, I strongly suspect, if you were Herbert Laming, who I did work for at one time and who is a fine and well-meaning professional. Mr Balls wouldn't last a week in such a job. But before he was shown the door he might usefully note that the major decisions over children at risk are actually made by the courts, not by the social workers.I visited Social Services in New York City once. They reckoned they had around 50 preventable child deaths per year, so they were no strangers to the problem. Yet they regarded our public child death enquiries with astonishment: "How on earth can you expect professionals to function in a system like that?"Well, it seems we do expect professionals to function well in impossible circumstances. And every now and then they let us down and we are very very disappointed, and vengeful.Mr Obama, anyone, please help. Change We Need. Thu 14 May 2009 21:28:01 GMT+1 MrWhiteManc The proposals for the improvement of the Social Services are frankly a rebranding of the profession. A rebranding as effective as those recently proposed by the losing team on this weeks 'Apprentice'This model of highly educated/qualified individuals managing some of the most vulnerable members of our society has failed previously and will do so again. Qualifications, whilst desireable, are no replacement for common sense based on life experiance application of theories requires tempering with an appreciation as to reality of a situation, For instance in Baby P case anyone with a grain of common sense could clearly identify suffering of the child simply based on what they could see. But because those involved are so wrapped up in theory reality took a break. A child died. The proposed solution? more degrees without a grain of common sense. Tragedy awaits this arrogance. Thu 14 May 2009 10:59:44 GMT+1 Purpledragonfish Having worked in Social Services and the corporate sector, I have never come across as much red tape as in Social Services. It hampers SW's in getting the job done and increasing numbers of SW's who are reaching breaking point. These people have no right to reply whatsoever and so the other side of the story is never given. It is not exactly a well paid profession and is undertaken by people who genuinely care, but have become so dissolutioned that they are leaving in droves.Yes, a massive overhaul needs to be done, because the facts speak for themselves - children have died, but not by political pundits with no experience, making knee jerk decisions because it scores votes. Wed 13 May 2009 12:34:59 GMT+1 ukapathy Hi all, I am currently a student social worker and have found this article very interesting. I have a few points I would like to raise regarding the comments made here. Firstly, I would say to ministers regarding morals - "Pot calling Kettle".Secondly, in response to the comments of LegendaryClaibelle. I would like to quote you: "As a loving mother of two children that I haven't seen for 9 years I feel the need to pass comment on social workers - along with some of the other members comments on here - to be at the hands of the so called 'experts' is traumatic to say the least. In my opinion they do not have the sense they were born with and how employing graduates that have no experience of life will improve matters I fail to see will make things any better".My reposnse to you is: "If you care that much, stop complaining and do something about it".Also, I think those individuals who are pointing the finger at Social Workers are more than welcome to train and do the job, please do as it will help reduce the pressure on those who work in Children and Families.Again, I feel i must make the following comment, which migh anger some people. "The fact that Social Workers are so busy and stressed is a reflection of society. The fact that there are so many vulnerable and abused children signifies a failure of societies values. There are very bad people out there who struggle to function on a daily basis without children, add a child to the mix and its a recipe for disaster. Social Workerers will always have a difficult job within the UK providing the general public keep burying there heads in the sand and ignoring the problems faced by Children.....after all, and I can back this up with research, abuse happens closer to home, within the home and often by relatives and close friends of the families.....perhaps your families".I beleive the public have a massive responsibility to play in the role of Social Work so don't be us out.Oh and one last thing, someone said on this thread that one of the problems is the fact that Social Workers try to keep a child within the family unit instead of removing the child. Well I would like to comment on the pragmatics of this action. "There are that many children who are at risk, if they were to all be removed, where would they go?" Margaret Thatcher started the closure of hundereds of Care Homes and there is not enough space... so what else could be done? Maybe when you start your Social Work can officially have an input...Thanks Tue 12 May 2009 09:19:43 GMT+1 Joan Olivares That's why I don't understand why children in care aren't followed up by the schools they attend. To me this makes a lot of sense. If you have an entire school and community watching over the well being of a child, The likelihood that there would be some type of abuse ocurring is diminished. If you have many people involved in a child's welfare, it acts as a sort of protection. The important thing is that the responsibility is spread across councils so that there is an equal distribution of children so they don't fall through the cracks. Also, schools should receive extra money for overseeing a child's well being and ensuring that they're going to therapy, extracurricular lessons, doctor,dentist etc. In this model, a child could have a semblance of a peaceful, strife free home life within the community as well as the community and school embracing and watching over them. I think this would help the day to day work load of social workers because schools could send weekly reports on a child's general well being, areas of concern and activities for the week. It doesn't take much time for a school counselor to interview a child. Are they happy? Have they made new friends? Are there any problems? I think this idea could work very well because it would have the effect of checks and balances within a child'overall care plan. A network as opposed to a lone, overworked, underpaid social worker. Mon 11 May 2009 17:57:32 GMT+1 Firestorm I find it interesting that all the media coverage is aimed at Social workers (40 hours a week to monitor 30 + children) failing to spot the signs of abuse when the families and neighbours of the Child concerned , who spend considerably more time with the child and have infinately more knowledge about "nysterious" boyfriends said nothing.Child protection is the duty of every man and woman on the street, and until families and communities stop ignoring the obvious signs then the overworked social services departments may well miss the odd case.Personally , I would quite happily put £10 per month onto my Council tax to increase the funding to Child protection in my council, but as I doubt the majority of those ranting about Social Workers would be willing to put their hands in their pockets I suppose I will put it towards the NSPCC instead Mon 11 May 2009 12:31:28 GMT+1 greenconnector Social Work as a profession is vilified throughout the media and society. Social Work is the job that no one wants to do and as the old addage goes in relation to child protection your our damned if you do and damned if you dont.Society has changed for the worse in my opinion.Britian and Ireland and indeed Europe has moved to the right and as such issues such as concern for those at the bottom of the social strata ie. the young an elderly are seen as wishy washy do gooder liberalism.The policies of successive governments implemented in Britain - which where then copied by other governments in relation to defining social work practices have added to the pressure that social workers currently find themselves under.When you apply market forces to issues such as peoples well being and indeed when you deny that a concept as basic as society itself exists and you give up on people at the bottom of the social starta and tell them that they are rubbish long enough then they start believing it and feel worthless. Hence you have illiterate people who are constantly bombarded with images of getting rich at any cost - no human feeling at all and no understanding of basic concepts such as caring or nuture. They become totally apathetic and have no reason for existing apart from listening to the messages of a consumer fuelled culture which is meaningless and shallow.The development of an underclass was inevitable by a generation who encouraged an Im alright Jack attitude within British Society and eventually throughout the vast majority of western culture.Child Protection is everybody's business as indeed is the protection of all vunerable people in society . It is no good getting the Chairman of this supermarket or the other to bestow civil titles on them and then ask them to apply market forces to concepts such as well being of society at the lower end of the strata or attempt to apply the same market forces to social work as a profession as was Margaret Thatcher's policy.Such offical attaitudes are dangerous and harbour at the heart of such policies the message that people in general dont count and that if they are not productive then they are a waste of resources and a waste of time .This is a very dangerous position to take and unfortunately as the past has shown children die when ignorant uneducated people at the lower end of the social strata who are told by consumerism that it is ok not to care about anything take this fareal attitude to its extreme.So those of you who read this blog and say that this is another wishy washy liberal and wring your hands in mock worry as there is another fatality in society ask your self this what would you do if you were a social worker and ponder what would you do to try to get society to care about those at the bottom of the social stara as you turn the next page of your middle class broadsheet in middle Britian - Ireland or Europe. Mon 11 May 2009 10:41:26 GMT+1 janemanby The problem for me is that while I agree that the calibre of social workers, like teacher police and all other public bodies that deal with people and their personal issues, needs raising and keeping at a more than acceptable level I have little trust in and no faith in the promises made by politicians to do so.At a time when politicians have been caught with their greedy noses in the trough of public funds (a sunday newspaper columnists' words not mine) how can we be expected to trust them with such an immportent issue?And as they are only sorry because they have been found out how can we trust any of them to have our interest at heart in any sphere of life.Make social services controllable by an independent body outside parliament and across all parties with a commitment to adequate funding. Take control out of the politicians hands and we will not need to be subject to trusting them. Mon 11 May 2009 09:47:21 GMT+1 RomeStu Agreed that the system needs an overhaul .... but I don't think someone like Ed Balls should be let near it - look what he did at education.Maybe an independent assessment of the situation, if the government would allow it, might actually avoid making it worse. Sun 10 May 2009 23:32:30 GMT+1 libbookworm Many social workers are young with little experience of life. Perhaps the professional training could be delayed until candidates were 25 or even 30 so that they could have more experience of life.Some of the best social workers I have come across were of the 'been there, seen that, got the tee shirt' brigade as well has having qualifications and that rarest of virtues, common sense. Sun 10 May 2009 15:55:59 GMT+1 SuspendedTeacher A key issue emerging from even just the debate in this blog, let alone the other discussion forums, is the classic false-positive/false-negative problem which arises when imperfect test procedures are applied which do not always distinguish real need from imagined need, analogous to cervical smear testing. A false-negative (or Baby P) outcome involves failure to intervene and remove in a family situation for which, with hindsight, intervention would have been beneficial. Conversely, a false-positive outcome ([this blog, 1,11,15] and the BBC Radio 4 programme on 9.5.09) results in intervention when there is no harm or risk of harm, usually by misinterpretation of medical data or social worker home visit reports, or expert witness errors. False-negatives resulting in death produce a huge media response followed by newspaper outrage, followed by ministerial sound-bites; however, the majority are less dramatic. False-positives rarely produce such a media response; instead, such cases form unreported private family tragedies in which children are removed from innocent birth parents into families of competent strangers resulting in the parental stigmatisation, endless mutual recriminations, costly legal battles to overturn them, and the alienation of the children. Both types of error are under-reported to the public because publication is banned until all the children of the family are over 18 or one is dead.So can the reliability of the assessments be improved to reduce both classes of errors? For long-lasting cases, the costly bureaucracy of court hearings, the much cheaper child protection conferences (CPC), child protection plans, core groups, case conferences and multidisciplinary teams (MDT) are superficially plausible on paper as providing balance and occasionally a lasting record of decisions, despite the secrecy, but here I part company from tigermartley[41]. The problems, quite apart from the difference between documented procedures and what happens in practice, are groupthink, factionalisation, and hidden agendas.Groupthink causes any of these groups, especially CPCs, to malfunction by encouraging some individuals to suppress their justified but private misgivings about the emerging group consensus, whichever way it is going: the exact opposite of a check and balance. (The conduct of CPCs is worthy of investigation in itself.)The result, quite apart from incorrect decisions, is factionalisation, in which attendees form competing sub-groups, notably between (a) the core groups and case conferences, which exclude parents, and (b) the MDTs (which include parents, exclude social workers and might include GPs, specialist health workers, charity, and ministers of religion).Social workers in particular appear to the other attendees to be unresponsive to the expressed opinions of the family and those of the other attendees about the immediate family needs; their input is seen by other professional attendees as implementing a hidden agenda for social change and political compliance imposed by central government, tolerated by local authorities, and imposed on junior CPC attendees by other junior social workers after a brief indoctrination period at college, or the loan of a video the night before. Even those who are both family-friendly and experienced appear to be under pressure from their line managers to manipulate information flow in order to achieve an outcome pre-ordained at an earlier social worker only case conference. Record keeping and quality control are limited to making sure that the right boxes were ticked over twenty days rather than that the right outcomes were achieved over twenty years. Record keeping is also utilised to ensure that in the state sector has a plausible excuse when matters go wrong. It is scarcely surprising that some parents, dissatisfied with the insensitive imposition of what they consider morally unacceptable secular values on their families, even return to charities and religious organisations for day-to-day help, a move which results in hostility from social workers and accusations of hiding abuse.What has gone wrong with the provisions of the 1989 Act? Again, my opinion differs from tigermartley, who claims the pendulum has swung too far the other way in allowing parental opinions to take precedence over social workers opinions. On the contrary, the combination of the 1989 Act, together with earlier divorce reform, and more recent primary legislation and statutory have given even more rights and obligations to the local authority to intervene, and the parents even fewer rights to refuse offers of support.Baby Q is going to happen next year regardless of Ed Balls attention to the high-profile false-negatives. No, the focus should be on the hidden false-positives. And if we wish to to regain trust in social workers, and if the other professionals are to respect them, they must no longer act, as Trainer54[35] put it, as "agents of state control". Sun 10 May 2009 10:32:02 GMT+1 Joan Olivares I think you mean "effective" and I agree that you don't need a university degree to be effective, however, many vulnerable children could benefit by having a raise in consciousness. Why would any parent want their child to stay at the same educational and social level. Wouldn't you strive to get the best possible education and experience for your child? I want my child to have a wealth of experience whether that's learning to sail at a posh yacht club or bowling at the bowlathon every Saturday night. Children need to learn how to behave at the opera as well as the rodeo. Not every parent will strive to give their children these opportunities. It's not about just feeding, clothing and educating a child. It's about showing them possibilities and nurturing them to make healthy intelligent choices for their life. My millioniaregirlfriend calls her son a bum and can't understand why he's so unmotivated. I told her that you have to groom children for success. A child doesn't just grow up at the magical age of 18 and become self actualized. Children need to learn independence gradually until the time comes that they can and want to be self sufficient. Children are always trying to show their independence. It's important to understand these stages in a child's life and to help not hinder them Fri 08 May 2009 23:01:26 GMT+1 SnoddersB I see that marcdraco has the problem in a nut shell. With all the errors they make and the fact that they take children from their parents, with police help in the night then to be proved wrong, means that they like politicians are not trusted.What happened to the neighbourhood keeping an eye? Oh of course we are not 'experts' so can not be trusted and common sense is out of the window with any modern expert. Fri 08 May 2009 17:47:31 GMT+1 MK_Steve It's not about high academic qualifications; the govt has made sure that those are attainable regardless of ability.. it's only fair! Niether is money the real issue; I chuckle at the argument that more money will encourage higher quality people; teachers' unions are forever trumpeting this, forgetting that lots more low-quality people will also be attracted by higher salaries. So unless it is accompanied by a cut-throat / effective selection system as well as poor staff being purged then increasing salaries will make no difference to quality.What will make a difference is the press, who coat every case in delicious hindsight, and we soak it up. The press should report 5 current cases where nothing has 'yet' happened and see how 'obvious' the result is in foresight... not very! But then in a year from now we'll all be amazed by own stupidity in not seeing what was going to happen. Only then will people realise the plight of the unfortunate social worker. Fri 08 May 2009 16:02:53 GMT+1 TheREALSteveJones What irks me about all this as with plamns for education is the idea they NOW propose to make this system "world class"!Can anyone tell me what it is they have been doing for TWELVE years? Fri 08 May 2009 15:46:30 GMT+1 cathiemac I think instead of looking for people with lots of qualifications they should try honest mums and dads (vetted of course) they are the ones to bring bad parents to book. Fri 08 May 2009 09:07:36 GMT+1 jon112uk I think this approach is missing the point. Social workers fail and we spend yet more more money to provide more social workers to fail the same way.Social work training is mostly politics - 'anti-oppressive practice' 'theorising and challenging oppression' to quote two learning modules. Things might be better if they did less politics and more practical work. How to tell the difference between a child with dreadful bruising on his face and a child with chocolate on his face would be an example. I don't think this would be easy because the people running the social work degrees are so commited to their politics. In the absence of root and branch changes to their training then another alternative would be to get more lay people with ordinary common sense involved. I can't imagine any normal person walking away from some of the things described in recent cases. Let normal people with some life experience, without dodgy social work degrees, into the profession. They used this approach with probation officers a while back and it seems to have greatly improved things. Fri 08 May 2009 07:19:18 GMT+1 Joan Olivares I'm not blaming social workers. I think they have an awful job with little support. My concern is with the condition of the families and homes that vulnerable children are brought into. My only point is that children need a very calm, healing environment to grow in. Anyone can take classes in parenting or care giving but that doesn't mean that they are an effective parent or care giver. As a society, we need to give children every available advantage so that they can grow up into healthy adults since they'll be the one's responsible for taking over the world. Fri 08 May 2009 06:26:05 GMT+1 Joan Olivares Yes it's true that there are many groups in our society that need specialized care but vulnerable children are already at a disadvantage. Strategically spending money on their mental health, school activities and general well being is money well spent since these children can overcome their childhood trauma and grow up to lead very productive lives. To me it makes more sense, to spend a lot of money on care from 0-21 then spend millions incarcerating them for the rest of their lives. When people suffer from emotional pain they spread their pain to others and this can affect so many people's lives. Take for example drug abuse.Most people take drugs to assuage their emotional pain. The drugs that this one person buys promotes carnage, murder and mayhem in other countries and supports ancilliary nefarious businesses. As a taxpayer, I'd much rather help pay for a child's on-going therapy than have them continue a life of drug addiction which is even more costly. To me, helping people to deal with their emotional pain is key in solving these problems. The notion that England might have a lower incidence of child abuse than another country is unacceptable. No child should be allowed to suffer at the hands of an adult. Teaching children to honor themselves by understanding their motivations and living a clean life, free from suffering and addiction is the key. Addictions come in all forms. Fri 08 May 2009 06:04:58 GMT+1 Proud_Social_Worker I have been a social worker for 10 years and I challenge anyone who thinks that we can get it right every time. We have to weigh up complex and often contradictory information. We rely on the other professionals around us to advise in the fields that they work in (ie Peadiatricians giving us an opinion on what is a non-accidental injury) and when these professionals do not agree, we have to decide which evidence carries more weight. We do not remove children on our own authority - the only agency that can do this, without a court order are the Police.Just as our criminal justice system is not error free, nor can we expect the work of Social Services. As a society, we have to understand that there will sometimes be children who remain at home when they should not and children who have been removed who could have stayed with their families. I would love to be right every time; I strive to be a good, level headed, compassionate, articulate, empowering social worker - but no doubt some that I work with would feel I fail. Thu 07 May 2009 22:29:04 GMT+1 Sutara #25. Quokka1912 wrote: "Firstly, are we not forgetting that it is not Social Workers that abuse children but rather the parents or carers of those children?"Actually there is a long history of the people in health, social and medical care, causing harm to clients in every category, often through such processes as institutionalising them, making excessive interventions in their lives, failing to listen to the client/relatives and failing to actually provide for the client's assessed needs. That is, the system, and those 'professionals' charged with the care of vulnerable children or adults, can often be sources of abuse too. Thu 07 May 2009 18:33:05 GMT+1 stanilic Message 27 masterSOCIALWORKERThank you for the clarification. It is the ignorance of technical terms that can contribute to divisions between the experts and the lay observers. I am all too aware of this as being an expert in my own field which is fortunately a long way from social work. Yours is a job I just could not do.The problem the media has is that in being media-savvy the implication is that you are either a polymath or equal to Renaissance Man. This cannot be the case but then today's news is tomorrow's recycling. Message 41 tigermartleyAgain I must say thank you for telling us how it is. What you identify is the difficulty in turning legislation into practice. A familiar territory for me but I don't deal with human lives. Training, mentoring and facilitation seems critical in your line of work; a task that can only be peformed as part of a professional team of experienced individuals. It seems to me that this is just not happening in many places, including Haringey (I have local knowledge of that area). Management is the issue; not the skills of the professionals.As far as Ma Thatcher is concerned social work is a world away from her experience. She thought everyone lived happily in nuclear families. If I saw the glass as half-full as opposed to half-empty I would be happy that such people could exist in our society. Thu 07 May 2009 14:08:33 GMT+1 delminister i agree with number one there but having experienced this problem myself i our case though even the fact that the lead social worker blatently lied we were stitched up from day one and all of this due to the negligance of social services reguarding a case prior to ours where they were seems to me social workers need to learn their jobs my wifes children have grown up in care and steal,do drugs and lie through their teeth.we were never given the chance to bring them up properly thanks to the godly powers of social services whom can do no wrong. Thu 07 May 2009 14:00:17 GMT+1 bobbgooduk Sorry to comment again, but it is an issue I am interested in! Many comments here about cost to the taxpayer etc. I am a subscriber to the idea of helping my fellow when he is in need. I would not sleep easy in my bed knowing that I had a few pence in the pound more in my salary while there are people out there suffering. Social Work, surely, is all about supporting the vulnerable, what ever their age, status, mental health etc. How can we look ourselves in the eye if we do not provide adequately for those less fortunate than ourselves? I hate the "I'm alright, Jack" attitude, one of the reasons why I left the UK to live in the Netherlands. Here we pay 19% VAT, the top tax bracket is 52% and starts an awfully long way below the 150,000 proposed recently for the UK. Britain IS NOT the most highly taxed nation in the universe. And yet I hear no-one here complaining about paying taxes. The care of the elderly, the education service and the health service are excellent. There are very positive drives to recruit foster families and social workers are not treated as interfering scum by one faction and inept do-gooders by another.If we want to live in a "civilised" society, then we must recognise that it costs money. Good idea to use schools to monitor children, but will we have a designated, trained person paid to do the job, or will it be just another job for the teacher to do, another stick to beat the hapless, inadequate, useless education system with?As for the elderly,well! My father and I lived on our own after his divorce from my mother and my brother and sister had left home. I always knew that when the time was right, he would come and live with me again and I told him so. He had no need to worry about an anonymous care home. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your mind-set) he died of a heart attack before he needed my care. We need to look very deeply into ourselves before we criticise the "system". Shouldn't we look after our own parents rather than punt them off into a home. Shouldn't we be the ones who make sure they are warm and safe and cared for? They did it for us. People are prepared far too quickly to pass responsibility to others and then criticise when things don't go according to plan.And yes, I am a bleeding heart - I push a 2-euro coin into the hand of the homeless man outside the supermarket every time I see him - I just hope that, if I need it, someone will do the same for me and wish me a better day tomorrow. Thu 07 May 2009 06:07:43 GMT+1 Grrrlie Here in the USA I have to say that "Social Worker" is an oxymoron. When I filed an authentic and serious complaint about child abuse against my daughter's father, my ex-husband, the "social worker" assigned to the case was supposed to perform an random unannounced visit to see the actual situation - instead, she scheduled an APPOINTMENT - with a child molester. TYPICAL. Social Workers are too full of themselves - too into "playing God." They harm far more children than they help - not only my child, but SO MANY OTHERS. Thu 07 May 2009 05:06:21 GMT+1 newdazedandconfused Divaldo (No 5) makes a strong point - naive to attempt to transplant one system into a different scenario. Social pedagogy (or putting the young person first and giving them some guidance and attention) can work if there is a will and proper funding but as master SOCIAL WORKER (27)points out there is a world of difference between positive social work and child protection.Cruelty to children happens in all countries - in our shock and outrage we need to consider whether the situation is worse here than in other countries - particularly in Europe. If it is how has this come about and what does it say about our society? I think the sad fact is that we do not like children and young people enough to put their emotional and physical welfare and future before other competing priorities. Tackling child cruelty is not soley the responsibility of government or social workers or the police - it is the responsibility of all of us: as family, friends, neighbours, members of the community and taxpayers. We all need to be able to help or support the vulnerable whether that be by offering help to the families under stress; alerting the authorities or as voters making clear to local and national politicians that we want to live in a society where such behaviour is not acceptable and that their role is to create the conditions where children and other vulnerable people can be safe and protected. Must admit that's rather what I hoped the Labour Government would try to do. Wed 06 May 2009 21:48:49 GMT+1 Neve1996 Having reviewed the blogs I have to agree that Scoial Work as a profession is not to be entered into lightly. The barriers to effective Social Work are numerous. The introduction of the 'business model' into the profession; performance indicators, unrealistic timescales, over complex administration systems, poor management etc. has probaly caused more children's deaths than any imcompetence from indivdual social workers. Having worked in child protection for many years, it is distressing to see the number of newly qualified social workers quickly becoming stressed and disillusioned. The current Social Work training does not prepare a worker for the task ahead. Many Local Authorities now have 'Children Services' and the director invariably comes from Education. It is time that Social Work was recognised as a distinct profession and not expected to fit into the systems and policies of other agencies. Wed 06 May 2009 21:18:01 GMT+1 aureol40012 I am literally sickened at the amount of money being wasted on "child protection" in the County I live in. The County Council seems proud that their second biggest budget is for child protection! Its nothing to be proud of, as someone who works in local government I know that the majority of this money is completely wasted and things that protect Councils and not children; its all about covering backs.Finally, why are children any more important than the elderly, or other vulnerable or deprived groups? Children are not the most important thing on gods earth; they are human beings just like the rest of us! Wed 06 May 2009 20:42:34 GMT+1 Joan Olivares Why can't the school follow children in care. The school could interview the child every week about problems they're having in the care home. School personnel could relay the findings to the social worker who would then liase with the family or intervene if needed. If children know they have options they would be more open to express what's really happening to them in the home. I think the whole model of care is wrong. Why would you put a vulnerable child in a struggling home full of strife. Children in care need a calm, strife free environment where the adults aren't worried about getting their gas turned off or paying the rent. They need to feel like every other normal kid in the neighborhood. When you blindly give money to people to care for others, the money needs to be tracked so that you know it's only being spent for the benefit of the child in care or issue a credit card with limits so that the expenses can be tracked and scrutinized. If schools took on a more hands on approach to the children in care in their communities, they could really help out the Social Services department. Children in care should be treated like kings and queens. The community needs to rally around them and lift them up. If an entire community would embrace children in care, and many eyes were watching over them, how could they dissapear? Wed 06 May 2009 20:16:16 GMT+1 Tolkny Back in the early 80s, just as we were finishing our social work training, our sociology lecturer said "You are now the soft police (message 35)Such power goes back to the dawn of statutory social work, certainly as early as the 1933 C&YP Act and probably also pre-dating the 1959 MH Act.I am afraid my knowledge of detailed powers of Social Workers does not go back earlier.When I trained in the seventies I realised SWs had significantly more power than a Probation Officer which I became, but all social workers have their decisions endorsed by either courts or quasi judicial boards such as Mental Health Act Commissioners, and it was ever thus, yet the Media frequently blames the Social Workers for their court recommendations rather than the Court for their decisions, when something goes wrong, as inevitably things will go wrong. What is amazing is that in the culture within Social Work, certainly since the Tories in the eighties, tried to clear out the Children's Homes for financial expediency, during a period ever greater demands were put on SWs with ever more limited resources, that there has been so comparatively few absolute disasters. Wed 06 May 2009 20:05:54 GMT+1 Tolkny Pre Moderation for someone who has been posting on other BBC message boards for years without problem is an insult, and a sign of the sort of mistrust that Social Workers experience. Trained and experienced but not trusted.Social Workers have also been paid far below the level that their training and experience merits so many of the brightest and the best place personal and family needs first and leave to undertake better rewarded and less stressful work, where the decisions taken rarely affect life and liberty. Wed 06 May 2009 19:52:18 GMT+1 Tolkny Trust the individual workers more but ensure proper supervision and no target driven management.Provide Social Workers with skilled support staff so they can use their skills with people instead of struggle with computers.Provide sufficient resources and services so they can provide support and oversight to clients, rather than spend large amounts of time rationing services and negotiating to get services that are desperately needed for more clients than those at the tip of the iceberg.CQSW holder, Awarded University of Liverpool, Dept of Extra Mural Studies, 1975. Wed 06 May 2009 19:47:34 GMT+1 tigermartley I have been a child protection social worker for ten years working in care management, which is essentially the ongoing work following the initial assessment of cases. What should be understood is that the notion that social workers keep children with their parents no matter what is a total misunderstanding of the job. Social workers must first and foremost ensure that children are protected from this concept of 'significant harm'. In essence this means the social worker managing risk management on a daily basis, evaluating, reviewing and synthesising information as the key agency. This is never done alone, and in the case of a Child Protection Plan is undertaken in conjunction with agencies such as Education and Health. The importance of these interagency partnerships cannot be underestimated. In a good core group of agencies information is contunually exchanged, plans rewritten as needed and support is coordinated. But IF the risk is too high children are removed; for example ongoing domestic violence, neglect, drugs, etc. I do go into homes, check beds, wardrobes and the rest, but we have no legal powers to do that. So we must develop a working relationship with our families, often against a backdrop of hostility. However, issues such as threshold criteria for care orders are generally high and workers need to be sure that the criteria is met before proceeding to court. In many ways this is as it should be as the state should not be involved on such a level without checks and balances. However, in many cases I would argue that these criterias also act to discourage applications for care orders; in essence the pendelum has swung too far the other way in favour of parental rights. We have to look at the guiding principles of the Children Act 1989 for the answers to why this is so, but suffice to say Thatcher governemnts were adamant to curtail social workers powers. It is also short sighted to say that social workers just need common sense to do the job. No, they need an understanding of law, policy, psychology, child development and so much more to do this job properly. Workers add to this their own life experience too and develop deeper understanding as they progress through the job. We have to be clear that child protection largely works, depsite the dreadfully woeful funding, and that this is mainly due to the commitment of workers everyday. Child deaths will never be prevented, we need to be honest about this, but we also need to accept that we either have more powers to remove at lower thresholds and risk the freedoms of a liberal society, or we accept higher levels of risk. Wed 06 May 2009 19:42:25 GMT+1 bobbgooduk There are a lot of comments here about how educated a social-worker should be. An understanding of psychology is important but I must add that experience is essential, particularly in respect of social-workers dealing with children. By this, I do not mean work experience but rather I think that, ideally, family social-workers should be parents themselves. It's a little bit like a Roman Catholic priest giving marital advice to parishoners. A priest may indeed have been a brother and son, but the relationship between husband and wife and parent and child is largely unknown to them in anything other than theory. Similarly, I think a child social-worker should know from first-hand how difficult it can be to be a parent. I hope not to give offence to all those social-workers without children, but nothing beats sharing a parent's-eye view when dealing with family situations. As to whether all social-workers are middle class and do not understand poverty. Rubbish! I am a university graduate (not a social-worker) and my dad was a coal miner and my mum worked in a tyre factory. Being educated is no longer the preserve of the middle class. Also, not all abuse occurs in poor families - it's just a misconception that nothing "nasty" goes on in middle-class homes. Wed 06 May 2009 19:05:50 GMT+1 Joan Olivares Why aren't agencies mandated to hire professionsl child care providers?It's unfathomable to me how poorly run the agency is. Hire me. I'll get the job done. No more missing, abused, uneducated, unhappy children. Wed 06 May 2009 18:37:09 GMT+1 Joan Olivares It boggles the mind how so many children could be missing from care. I mean who is in charge of vetting and hiring these people? How so many child traffickers could pass under the wire just dumbfounds me. I'm speechless! Wed 06 May 2009 18:29:09 GMT+1 DA_RUE_STIR In the USA social workers are often very low paid jobs so the government often ends up with barly qualified ex-walfare people. In recent years the government has hired private companies to do the work using whom ever they can hire. The results are often tragic. Wed 06 May 2009 17:54:57 GMT+1 Dave H It doesn't help when there's political interference with the job, targeting groups that are an easy touch but are probably low risk. Here I'm thinking of home educators, who have recently become the target of government bureaucrats who perceive that because the children are not in school, they're at more risk of abuse.So social workers are going to have to spend their valuable time checking up on families who are going to object to being labelled as a risk, making it awkward all round. Meanwhile, the schoolchildren who are being abused will be missed due to lack of resources. Wed 06 May 2009 17:51:28 GMT+1 Trainer54 Back in the early 80s, just as we were finishing our social work training, our sociology lecturer said "You are now the soft police. You are agents of state control". Many of us denied it and pointed out that we had come into the profession not to control but to help people to begin the task of getting their lives back under their own control. You may feel that we were innocent and naive and perhaps we were. The lecturer was correct. Since the 80s, social work has essentially been about society dealing with those who it would rather know little about and generally keeping them out of the spotlight. Many of us left and, I guess, the pattern has been replicated many times since then.While ever social work is seen (as it is in this country) as a control mechanism for huge groups of people, it will not succeed. It would be simplistic to assume that the Danish model is ideal, but it would most certainly be worthy of further scrutiny if we are to develop a profession that is well qualified, well-regarded and, above all, helps children and families to survive. Wed 06 May 2009 17:48:22 GMT+1 Dave H It may be politically incorrect to say so, but in a truly free society, there will always be some casualties. Unless everyone is monitored and controlled to an impossible degree, some will inevitably fall through the cracks and suffer. It's the price we pay for freedom, even if it's uncomfortable to view it in that way. We could cut road injuries and deaths to almost zero if private cars (and bikes) were banned, and those that were allowed were back to the old red flag days of 4mph. However, most people are prepared to put up with the higher casualty rate because they perceive the individual risk to be low and the benefits high. Social workers are juggling the same sort of thing - you can't make every parent account for every minute of their child's time, nor can you ignore warning signs. As we have rules of the road, we have to have rules of the social worker. And just as the rules of the road occasionally fail, so do the rules of the social worker. More regulation is not the answer, more education is. Wed 06 May 2009 17:48:03 GMT+1 yellowsandydog There is a contradiction in reporting the recent child protection failings that led to the death of Baby Peter and then saying we need to place more trust in social workers. Surgeons (for example)are generally well respected, highly intelligent, highly trained members of society but we still expect them to be under a high level of scrutiny. It should be the same for social workers whether "the brightest and best" or not. Wed 06 May 2009 17:42:07 GMT+1 porkypigdorset If Ed Balls really wants to protect the children in this country, it is not just about changing what we have in Social Services. It is also about overhauling others including CAFCASS, these people (without any training) make all the really poor decisions that social services are eventually blamed for.Why do polititians think that tinkering with systems will make things better. If we want to make things better for the children, then an overhaul of every department is required. This includes GPs, Ambulance Staff, Police the public, in fact all those people that get involved and need to report what they are witnessing, there needs to be proper robust systems in place, some of what we have at present does not work, yet we wait until a child dies, instigate a report, dismiss people, make recommendations and then pretend they are in place, and then wait again....... Wed 06 May 2009 17:31:49 GMT+1 bobbgooduk Since my last post, I've been thinking about this more and more. I am an adoptive father and for several years also a foster-father. My experience has been that social workers come in all varieties - some absolutely brilliant, others I wouldn't trust with a rice pudding. This is the same in all professions, good cops, bad cops, good teachers, bad teachers, good doctors, bad doctors. We have to try to remember that these people are only human, do not know everything, cannot find a solution for everything, cannot undo all the wrong in the world. We are educated to believe that our children face so many dangers from "strangers", paedophiles, street viloence, gang culture etc. In fact, the vast majority of abuse, both physical and sexual, comes from within a child-victim's immediate family or the circle of family friends. Schools teach about "Stranger Danger" but never "Watch out if uncle starts touching you in the bath" or "Tell a teacher if mum's boyfriend has been knocking you about". We call on social workers to remove children from dreadful situations, but where do they go? How many people reading this will offer to take in a child in desperate need? How many people will love and protect another's child? If we want things to change, we have to provide social workers with the tools, and that includes good foster homes. And that would involve US doing something. Wed 06 May 2009 17:21:53 GMT+1 DeniseCullum222 Ed Ball who to me would go to an opening of an envelope like his wife as for him wanting to make social service the best in the world he should try in England first he is always over the top and nothing happens. We do not need over educated people just people who love and know the type of children they will get to deal with and those who have a hands on real insight into what the families are like, and not ego ridden managers who think dealing with those who are in a lower class than they come from are makes them powerful. As this is England which has never been child friendly look what we allow those to get who hurt them and how many of those who deal with them are checked out. It is all wind and pips with Mr Ball it gets him on television so he can waffle about what ever comes into his mind and free trips to other countries and people forget and when another death comes up he will be PM for something else. many people who come under the social service umbrella do so because of many things but those who reign over them is not interested they are well paid and as long as they can make sure nothing rocks the boat then they can move up the ladder, paying them more is not going to make them kinder towards those children they need to protect like the woman who did not feel that she should be sacked well she was one of the bosses, child abuse is world wide as they are powerless and in England they are ignored like the old and the mentally ill. Wed 06 May 2009 16:45:06 GMT+1 stress_bunny I am not sure that all social workers do the same thing. Those who do child protection, can we realistically expect them to recognise something utter alien to most people - madness and lies? Surely we've all seen these programmes showing how convincing liars can be? Do we want them going into houses looking for the worst in people? However, then there are the 'social workers'. Never had one, met several. Mostly educated, middle class, totally unable to relate to poverty and with elevated opinions of themselves. Only one I knew helped families in any real way at all. That was in one county, back to the postcode lottery. The management makes a difference too, and the culture of the department. That doesn't seem to be getting looked at here. Wed 06 May 2009 16:01:57 GMT+1 darksurfer To understand a bit better the depth of the problem just have a look at the regulator for the social services, GSCC. Their level of incompetence seems to be matched only by their level of arrogance. They are supporting poor standards being more interested in finding scapegoats to justify their existence and their massive funding. Appaling! Wed 06 May 2009 15:51:02 GMT+1 masterSOCIALWORKER stanilic, when I read the Easton article he referred to his previous article about Danish Child Protection Social Work. Click on the link and you will see an article relating to looked - after children. Looked - after children and child protection are not the same. A child can be both on a child protection register and looked after at the same time but not all children in care are there because they need protecting and most children on the register are not in care. In fact, children who are cp registered and placed in long term care would most likely be de - registered.So, Mr. Easton's assertion that he looked at child protection in Denmark betrays an ignorance of the terms and the system. He wrote about their (long term)looked after children, not the same thing at all. Accurate appraisal of our child care and protection systems is needed; we don't need the ravings of the red - top journalists or sloppy reporting, they are not helpful.I hope this has clarified my stanilic,thanks for your comments. Wed 06 May 2009 15:42:30 GMT+1 bobbgooduk Social workers are in such a difficult position - damned if they do and damned if they don't. What we have to remember is that social workers do not create the problem - they are doing their best to clear up after other people. The best way to improve our society is to give people the skills and knowledge they need before they become parents. People need to realise that there is a lot more to being a mum or dad than providing the occasion trip to a burger restaurant or an over-expensive Christmas present. Children need TIME from their parents more than anything else. Social workers did not kill Baby Peter, his "family" did. Please note also that I do not pass the buck for teaching family skills to teachers - you learn to be a member of a family at home, not in school. It's a job I wouldn't do for any amount of money, although Ed Balls seems to think that throwing money at the problem will do the trick. This brings me to my final comment - what does Ed Balls, or any other MP, know about Social Work? Too often, very major aspects of our society (education, health care, care of the elderly, social work)are made political. It should not matter whether the government is Conservative, LibDem or Labour when it comes to caring for citizens. Caring for the sick and vulnerable and providing a well-rounded education are a keystone of a modern society. Wed 06 May 2009 15:38:01 GMT+1 Quokka1912 Firstly, are we not forgetting that it is not Social Workers that abuse children but rather the parents or carers of those children? Surely they are the ones who should be ultimately responsible.Secondly, I am a very experienced child protection social worker. I left front line work partly to take up a more senior role where I could influence inter-agency working, but also becuase support and resources to child protection staff has been cut year on year, leaving staff feeling vulnerable and deskilled. Many frontline staff go home every night worrying that the next child death to be investigated will be one from their caseload - not beacuase they are incompetent but because they can only physically do so much in any one day and their caseloads are completely unmanageable.Added to the constant cut in resources and staff, has been the increase in paperwork that now sees Social Workers spending 83% of their time at their desks - when I started out 14 years ago I could spend whole days out in children's homes, working with families - that is now overshadowed by bureaucracy - we cannot assess the interaction between a parent and child via a computer form, however if our paperwork targets are not met our departments do not receive funding - how can that be right?Finally, the real tragedy is the loss of preventative social work. So many families, when having their children placed in care, will say they asked for help years earlier but it was not forthcoming as they did not meet the 'thresholds'. Social Workers are aware that had they been allowed to intervene at that earlier point and work pro-actively with the family, then many more serious issues could be avoided. The government and department heads will tell us that this work is being undertaken by 'universal' services - but that often boils down to unqualified or voluntary staff (who have a role, but are not the answer to reducing social work intervention). Wed 06 May 2009 15:33:10 GMT+1 briang65 I think once again we here the cry to choose atr brightest people. unfortunatly they come from mostly stable families and have no concept of a disfunctioinal family who live in abject poverty or have special needs. They will only learn about life in a classroom. We need experienced people who have lived and can tell the signs of abuse and neglect. Not some young upstart who will get no respect from the people they are trying to help. Its always better in life to have a balenced workforce even so called experienced social workers have only learned through the classroom and thats why the system fails. Wed 06 May 2009 15:16:47 GMT+1 chris4454 We have heard it all before.Another Utopian soundbite to be forgotten about by the time the newspapers are wrapped around some fish and chips.What will happen in practice...precisely nothing!How long do they think they can get away with this nonsense? June 2010 presumably? Wed 06 May 2009 14:46:13 GMT+1 Sutara Firstly, if only the banking industry had been subject to the stringent selection and qualification regime that social workers were, and to the professional supervision and scrutiny.However, I have often wondered if having social work in the hands of local authorities was the best way to do business. I think the possibility of a centralised UK agency, or perhaps nationalised - to the devolved governments /assemblies - might well be a better way of doing business.It's all very well for Ed Balls to encourage people into the profession but have the town halls got the necessary resources to fill their vacancies? Many posts in social services departments up and down the country get 'frozen' (left unrecruited to) by local politicians in times of ecomonic hardship. Wed 06 May 2009 14:35:20 GMT+1 P Berry My personal view as a parent is that, like primary schools, the social services now employ people on a 'jobs for the girls' basis rather than any proven ability to do the job. A specific mindset now dominates the profession leading to the many scandals that have arisen in recent times. Wed 06 May 2009 14:11:34 GMT+1 legendaryClarabelle As a loving mother of two children that I haven't seen for 9 years I feel the need to pass comment on social workers - along with some of the other members comments on here - to be at the hands of the so called 'experts' is traumatic to say the least. In my opinion they do not have the sense they were born with and how employing graduates that have no experience of life will improve matters I fail to see will make things any better. Just as Baby 'P' was let down by the system, so have I and by the looks of it, countless others. The long term effects of getting it wrong are devastating and its about time social workers were personally accountable for their own actions - maybe they would then think twice about their decisions and take a look at the bigger picture. Wed 06 May 2009 14:04:22 GMT+1 kaybraes If someone dies in industry due to corporate negligence , thanks to laws implemented by this government, someone may be charged with corporate killing. Yet when a government employee fails to do his or her job, it is swept conveniently under the carpet. Last night I watched members of a Health board apologising for the deaths of two people through their admitted negligence ; the thought that immediately sprang to mind was that they should not have been facing the TV cameras, they should have been facing a jury, God knows they are paid, like the social workers , very large salaries to do their jobs to the best of their abilities , and if they fail to do so should face the consequences. Wed 06 May 2009 13:37:01 GMT+1 Green Tigeress I used to be a child protection social worker, from 1986 - 1990. I left because the then government (Thatcher's tories) cut local authority budgets to the point where only high-level emergency child protection work was carried out. Ironically I got a voluntary redundancy package! Cut-backs meant that there were few foster places and children's homes were being closed down, so even if a child needed to be removed, there was no place of safety for them in reality, and the cost of protecting a child through the Court system was also very prohibitive.It is so sad to see that little has changed in almost 30 years, but I have no regrets about leaving social work as the stress levels were unbearable. It is still the same... as a social worker you are damned for removing kids from abusive families and damned if you leave them there. It is worth remembering that social workers did NOT kill Baby P - the immediate family did that all by themselves (they have been convicted in court), without any help or encouragement from the local authority. But if you are a social worker with 30+ children at risk on your caseload and a management team who are more concerned with targets, cost-cutting etc. sadly, you are another Baby P scapegoat waiting to happen. Social workers are not issued with crystal balls upon graduation - they cannot predict the future any more than you or I can, yet that is what we expect them to do. I am not optimistic about the current proposals... until social workers are accepted as valued members of society (as opposed to the pariahs they have been for the last 30-odd years) and given sufficient training, resources and support they need to do their job, then things will stay the same as now, and more children will be murdered by the people who are supposed to protect them - their family. Wed 06 May 2009 13:22:11 GMT+1 Secret Love I think we need to focus on the needs of the child and not the rights of the individual. Serial parenting is now regarded as a viable option, despite all evidence that suggests this a hunting ground for abusers.The answer lies in how we value motherhood, society, and education. It will not be resolved by another databse. Wed 06 May 2009 13:02:17 GMT+1 stanilic Message 9 masterSOCIALWORKERCan you expand on the point you have made? Wed 06 May 2009 12:58:34 GMT+1 stanilic While listening to the piece on Today this morning my mind slipped back to reading Sarah Wise's book `The Darkest Streets' about the Old Nicol slum in Bethnal Green. One chapter is entitled The Cruelty Men who were the first child protection social workers.We have had child protection legislation since 1853 and one would have thought that by now we should have a workable process.Anyone who has had responsibility for running an organisation understands that the best results are achieved when everyone in the team are achieving satisfaction from their work. Why doesn't this apply to social work?The evidence seems to point to too much bureaucracy. The social worker on the ground is not allowed to make the big decisions which are left to those further up the command chain who are keen to protect their status and position. This is quite absurd as the people who do the work should be allowed to own the work. Sure, each case needs to be reviewed by a supervisory board but this should be post-fact and not ante-fact.This country is going to face some feaful choices in the next few years as we can no longer continue funding a big centralised bureaucracy. This reality has not dawned on the mindset of Mr. Balls and his party. We will still need social workers but we won't need and can't afford the superstructure, so the first thing is to empower the people who do the work. Wed 06 May 2009 12:57:00 GMT+1 believesinjustice This post has been Removed Wed 06 May 2009 12:42:30 GMT+1 Burdale Brian NE37, soft option? I have been in social work for thirty five years and it has never felt like a soft option and right now I feel like throwing in the towel.As well as having to make decisions in highly emotionally charged situations (and these decisions can mean life or death for vulnerable individuals) on a daily basis we have to continue to do the job within the context of constant media denigration and dishonest political masters. Social workers have long been placed on a continuum between the stereotypes of ineffective hippy drip or jackbooted nazi - we have seen examples of both ends of this percieved spectrum in the mass media in recent weeks.The unbalanced reporting of the social work task does not protect children more effectively and could have the opposite effect. It demoralises and depletes those who are in the front line of child protection; the vast majority of whom do protect children on a daily basis in a very difficult climate. It's no easy option Brian (and by the way we are not civil servants, we're not part of the civil service)and if you had the opportunity to shadow a social worker for a week you would soon find out for yourself that it was not. Wed 06 May 2009 12:41:23 GMT+1 paddedcell He wants to encourage more of the "brightest and highest achieving graduates" to enter a service desperately short of qualified staff.???I think Mr Balls statement touches on one of the problems.To be brutally honest, I really don't feel that the new Hawking or an aspiring Einstein would have the required 'tools' for a career in Social Work.Wouldnt it be better to recruit graduates from the 'University of Life'? Men & women with life experience? Parents, with undoubted ability and a proven track record of handling children and tough situations?With all due respect to graduates, I suspect that many problematic and public cases recently were caused by inexperienced people, who couldnt find anything in their textbooks and lacked the common sense to be able to cope.I can't see how throwing a few hundred, let's face it, no more than children themselves, glorified sixth-formers, into social work will help at all. Infact, it may well have the opposite effect. Wed 06 May 2009 12:38:55 GMT+1 justiceisdead Only someone who has been at the end of a false or mistaken allegation and been accused by so called experts such as social workers and the police, would understand how much anguish it causes and how much trauma a family could be put through due to their actions. Having a small child interviewed without parental knowledge, in the presence of an unrelated third party, causing the child to be upset and insecure, all because of a mistaken or malicious allegation by a childcare worker and then to be told it was in the best interest of the child and that procedure had been followed is laughable. Social workers or the police dont seem to be held accountable for such mistakes and the damage caused to families by their investigative processes and actions. How is Ed Balls going to address these mistakes? Wed 06 May 2009 12:35:53 GMT+1 clive_ansell The wider debate is beginning to look like the one between roads and trains. Many more people die on the roads, but when a rail incident happens, everyone gets hot under the collar about rail safety and major new initiatives have to be launched. And social work includes the most vulnerable members of society - and especially children, so the terror of getting it wrong even once is overwhelming.Mark, your point is a good one, but it boils down to three real questions - what would be a real new approach, how can it be communicated to gain general consensus, and (the most difficult) how to get from where we are now to any genuinely new approach?Keywords - Simple, Straightforward, Clear, Professional.Single oversight approach - one management chain, with a split between team management and professional management - learning from professional services in industry. People progress through recognised skills, user feedback (real users, real outcomes), and the rewards for success are a bigger job in the field (not a bureaucratic/"management" role), more money and (most importantly) more autonomy. Defined sabbaticals for people who work in the toughest, most extreme areas of social work. And plug in the educational and other changes that Ed Balls is talking about, although with less emphasis on degrees - this is a skill-based, experience-based profession.Starting it? Simply start the new system in a newly opened facility or with a new department, staffed with fresh (not inexperienced) people, and be explicit that it's a trial. And move out progressively from there.And call the triallists something different from 'social workers'. (No, I'm not bright enough to think of something off the top of my head.)Oh, and start it in the first year of a new government, so there's enough bottle to keep going through the early teething phases ....Not THE answer, just showing the shape of one. But it's brave in the extreme for any politician to propose fewer, simpler overisght bodies and mechanisms, and progressive "deregulation", rather than grand initiatives. But without it, not only will children die or be abused despite a massive overhang of scrutiny, but vastly many more won't be nurtured and helped (nor their helpers helped) in a way which gives them a chance to break free from the environments that we (all of us, not just social workers) have helped create and are sustaining now. Wed 06 May 2009 12:32:17 GMT+1 masterSOCIALWORKER Mark Easton wrote that he went to Copenhagen to 'see their approach to child protection.' He then proceeds to write about Denmark's approach to caring for children in their care system. This is another example of the poor journalism and inaccuracy that social workers are subjected to. I am a child protection social worker Wed 06 May 2009 12:26:59 GMT+1 Matt1878 Quite desparing, actually, to read of likely further scrutiny, and some relatively low-level increase in funding, which may, or may not, reap dividends. The proposals tinker around the edges and revisit old ground. There is nothing sufficiently radical that will address the fundamental and deep-rooted difficulties faced by the social work profession. Society has unrealistic and simplistic expectations(fuelled by the media, the government and certain charities)that child cruelty can be eradicated, if only social workers did their job properly. There is a continued unwillingness to prioritise sufficient resources to ensure that a quality service can be provided. Social work is a profession in crisis, besieged by criticism from all sides. Ed Balls is right to say that child protection is everyone's concern, but I see little of that even-handed approach when he was so lightning quick to blame individuals following the death of Baby P, yet so slow in talking about shared responsibility.Incidentally, the recent parliamentary report was referring specifically to the status of care workers in children's homes in the United Kingdom compared to Denmark, rather than qualified social workers as Mark suggests. Children's home staff are typically, though not all, unqualified: this error is perhaps indicative of the general lack of understanding of what a professionally qualified social worker actually does, but the point is still relevant. We do not really value children and their safety and happiness enough in this country, and Ed Balls' statement today does not suggest that his government is willing to challenge that in a meaningful way. Wed 06 May 2009 12:26:32 GMT+1 coolwhip86 Marcdraco- "Bizarre that the same "experts" let baby Peter - and others - die"I have to respectfully disagree that these 'experts' contributed in any way to the deaths of baby P or other children. Social workers have a hard enough time trying to view all of their cases, it only takes a second for a life to be taken.It goes to show how much justice has been done now that the father of baby P is accused of raping a 2yr old child. It's a real pity that parliment cannot hold up their hand and admit to flaws in the laws that need more emphasis on the 'moral' right and not technicalities.There will always be evil in society - we can only wish for it to be monitored accordingly and those responsible(the parents of baby P) to be punished for their actions. Media needs to be more responsible in reporting the facts of cases and not to sensationalise the story and spin it off on the people who live it every day trying to save another potential baby P.On this Article-more money thrown at the problem, no laws changed and conservatives getting rid of red tape. Familiar? where does the merry-go-round stop? Wed 06 May 2009 12:19:45 GMT+1 supabayley123 Until there is a complete change in how social workers and governmants see families, it will not change. As it stands social workers will do everything it takes to keep children with mothers.When abuse happens they will provide the mother/father with any and all help available, so she/he can become a "good enough" mother, rather then finding an alternative/safe place for the children.All the case you see on the TV are involving physical abuse. The forgotten children are those who have been emotionally abused, they have no bruises but thier injuries will last a live time and most of them never fully recover.Fathers are generally ignored by the services and are seen as trouble makers, even though they are trying to protect their children.I am a woman dealing with the fall out of social services consistantly failing to protect two children. Wed 06 May 2009 12:15:38 GMT+1 divadlo It seems to me most of these 'possible solutions' seem to ignore the obvious....that such 'social problems' are a symptom of the culture/society. Therefore, any simplistic observation of another nation's supportive programs must also consider the culture/society in which it currently exists and why it works for them?To simply transport such a system from one nation to another seems somewhat naive, especially given the size and importance of the problems one is trying to solve. Wed 06 May 2009 12:07:08 GMT+1 Steveslinger Social Workers are vilified by the media - thats the issue. For every Baby P or Victoria Climbie reported in the Daily rubbish there are several thousand other succesful outcome cases which go unoticed. We need to change the portrayal of Social Workers in everyday life. Its a difficult challenging job which requires a degree qualification. Wed 06 May 2009 11:56:22 GMT+1 Brian_NE37 This post has been Removed Wed 06 May 2009 11:55:23 GMT+1 newsjock Who would be a social worker ?Every politician and member of the public are pronounced experts, who rush out of the woodwork when the benefit of hindsight can be applied to an regrettable incident.Politicians strive, for whatever reason, to integrate some very difficult people and their children into society, as well as many with psychological disorders.When something goes wrong, you won't find a politician within a barge pole's length. Wed 06 May 2009 11:49:13 GMT+1 marcdraco Try having your children taken from you for being accused of something you clearly did not (and in my case, demonstrably could not have) do and you know now it feels to be on the wrong end of experts and social workers. Bizarre that the same "experts" let baby Peter - and others - die. They failed in both regards and do so all too often: probably thanks to the UK bureaucracy. The system desperately needs an overhaul. Wed 06 May 2009 11:44:51 GMT+1