I am a local authority senior social worker and have specialised in substance misuse work for many years. I am ready for a change and would like to move into children’s services. As job adverts all ask for recent experience, I wonder how feasible this is? I am not keen on returning to a junior position.
I would be surprised if your work in the drugs and alcohol field has not provided you with rich experience of the impact of misuse on children’s development and wellbeing. By reflecting back on cases you have been involved in and taking a child care perspective, you should be able to identify key issues for children’s services.
You should take time to research current policy and practice in child care and perhaps find out what texts and materials are being used on social work courses. You could arrange to shadow a colleague in a child care team to get first hand experience.
You should demonstrate that you recognise the need to put personal effort into making the transition between service areas. Good employers know that people with emotional intelligence, motivation and commitment can be helped to gain the necessary skills and experience.
If your local authority is striving to be an employer of choice, it should offer support to help you make the transition to another service area, rather than lose you. A good employer will see your drug and alcohol experience as an added bonus for child care work.
If you are an experienced manager, you will have skills and experience in managing a team, delegating work and monitoring the performance of more junior staff. This will make it easier to transfer to another service area at the same level, or above, your current status.
Addie Stevenson is children and family services director at Aberlour Child Care Trust.