Social work is losing child protection workers because staff
are not being supported in carrying out emotionally and intellectually
demanding work, Andrew Cooper, professor of social work at the Tavistock
Clinic, told the Victoria Climbie Inquiry last week.
"A large part of the reason we have recruitment and
retention problems is that we are failing in a sense to protect the workers who
are supposed to do the protection," he said.
High-quality supervision, and attention to the emotional
complexity and difficulty of the work in training, were also essential, he
Cooper said the inquiry-led, policy-driven culture of the
past 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