The Association of Directors of Social Services is to carry out
a survey of area child protection committees to see how they deal
with unexplained child deaths.
In its submission to the last of the five seminars in phase two
of the Victoria Climbie inquiry, due to take place later this week,
the ADSS says the survey will help determine “whether there are
protocols or proposals which might be implemented nationally to
address this issue”.
The move follows concerns, cited in the submission, that there
is no one agency with overall responsibility for unexpected child
deaths, and no standard procedure for responding to them.
The ADSS submission calls for consideration of a national system
for standardising part 8 reviews and for the Social Services
Inspectorate to have a stronger evaluating and monitoring role.
Meanwhile a leading academic told the Victoria Climbie inquiry
social work is losing child protection workers because staff are
not being supported in carrying out emotionally and intellectually
Andrew Cooper, who is professor of social work at the University
of East London and the Tavistock Clinic, said: “A large part of the
reason we have recruitment and retention problems is to do with the
fact that we are failing in a sense to protect the workers who are
supposed to do the protection.”
High quality supervision, and attention to the emotional
complexity and difficulty of the work in training was also
essential, he said.
Cooper said the inquiry-led, policy-driven culture of the last
15 years had led to defensive practice as staff were left watching
their backs in case something went wrong. “This inquiry could
perform a very positive function by emphasising the need to learn
more from experience,” he urged. “We are looking for a
responsibility culture rather than a blame culture.”
Mark Sturge, general director of the African and Caribbean
Evangelical Alliance, said that in the 1980s social work was seen
as a reasonable job for ethnic minorities. But now, many found that
they were still carrying out case work while white colleagues moved
into management. “There are no opportunities to progress up the
ladder, he said. “The management of social work is being done by
white people – young black people are not seeing social work
as desirable at all and are looking elsewhere.”