Social workers are confused about the role of government-funded social care agencies and are frustrated with their lack of leadership, the Social Work Task Force said in its interim report last week.
Social work needed strong leadership and “a refreshed and easy-to-understand description” to improve public understanding, the taskforce said. Practitioners were also concerned by the lack of a strong national voice during the media furore over Baby P, it added.
“Some social workers look to government-funded regulatory or delivery bodies for this leadership, but do not necessarily find it there,” it said. “Many social workers have expressed confusion about unclear roles or overlapping remits of those organisations or find it hard to understand the work that they do.”
The taskforce, which is government appointed, said it would make recommendations on how agencies could “use their resources well, to support high-quality practice on the ground and provide good value for money”.
A Department of Health review of the General Social Care Council, Social Care Institute for Excellence and Skills for Care is due to report shortly.
Scie chair Allan Bowman (right) defended the institute’s role over Baby P, saying he personally went on to BBC2 Newsnight to say that “the way the profession was being attacked was causing distress and demoralising staff”.
He said that Scie had highlighted its guidance on improving learning from serious case reviews in its response to Lord Laming’s child protection review.
“We provide a strong voice by doing what we were created to do: by supporting social workers with evidence of good practice,” he said.
A GSCC spokesperson said: “We are pleased that the taskforce has recognised that there’s an absence of a voice for social work. It’s been a concern for us for some time. As the regulator, it’s not suitable for us to be a blanket defender of the profession.”
New description of social work
The taskforce also said it would consult over the summer on a new description of social work because existing definitions were difficult for the public, other professionals and even social workers to understand.
This appears to be a criticism of the statement published in March 2008 on the roles and tasks of social work produced by the GSCC, Skills for Care, the Children’s Workforce Development Council, and Scie.
The roles and tasks statement was supposed to have provided a clear definition. But, although commissioned by the government, it was not endorsed by any minister when published.
The GSCC spokesperson said it welcomed any work on a new definition, but the roles and tasks project had illustrated the challenges of producing one because of the diversity of social work roles.
The taskforce has issued a call for evidence to inform its final report to government in October. Practitioners are invited to complete an online survey or make formal submissions, including published research and evidence, by 1 June. More information and taskforce interim report