Children’s workers feel ill-equipped, says study

Social workers working with children and families do not feel
they have had the training to enable them to carry out the job,
according to a Community Care survey announced today at Community
Care LIVE.

The study reveals that more than half of the social workers
asked believe they and their colleagues have not been “adequately
trained” to meet the demands placed upon them.

Chairperson of the Association of Directors of Social Services
children’s and families committee Rob Hutchinson said: “This is an
extremely important statistic because it raises the need to take a
thorough look at whether social work training courses are properly
preparing students for what is one of the most difficult jobs in
the public sector.”

In addition, 11 per cent feel they do not receive enough support
from their manager when making difficult decisions about the
welfare of children in child protection. One in five social workers
believe there is a greater number of child abuse cases going
undetected these days compared with five years ago – partly as a
result of staff shortages and a lack of resources.

More than two-thirds of the social workers surveyed had also
been threatened with violence over the past five years, and 20 per
cent had been a victim of violence an average of twice.

Of the government’s various initiatives aimed at improving child
welfare, Quality Protects is deemed to have been the most
successful, with 80 per cent of those surveyed describing it as
very or fairly effective.

Fifty-eight per cent of social workers feel Sure Start – aimed
at helping parents in areas of need to promote the physical,
intellectual, social and emotional development of children under
four – is also very or fairly effective.

But Connexions – under which all 13 to 19-years-olds will be
allocated a personal mentor – and the Children’s Fund appear to
have made less of an impact, with around 60 per cent of social
workers claiming to be uncertain of either initiative’s

Drug abuse among parents – in particular heroin abuse – was
cited as a growing factor in child protection cases over the past
five years by almost eight out of 10 social workers.

A third of respondents also believe sexual abuse has become more
of a problem in child protection cases over the past five years,
while three quarters believe there is a direct relationship between
the viewing of child pornography on the internet and the abuse of

Almost three quarters of social workers surveyed believe a
children’s commissioner for England, Scotland, and Northern
Ireland, similar to the one recently appointed in Wales, would
improve the child protection system.

“All of these findings reflect the urgency that must be given to
recruiting, retaining, developing, training and properly
remunerating child care social workers so that all the progress
that has been made by Quality Protects and other initiatives is not
fatally undermined,” Hutchinson said.

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