The Association of Directors of Children’s Services has backed a proposal to include a specialism in working with children in the social work degree.
In its submission to the Social Work Task Force, the ADCS said courses were failing to prepare graduates who were “immediately ready” to enter the workforce.
It identified a “strong case” for specialisation in the last year of the degree, including knowledge of child development, multi-agency working and a “core set of skills” for the children’s workforce.
But ADCS rejected Lord Laming’s recommendation that children’s specialisation should occur in the second year of the degree, arguing that this would “risk losing the coherence of social work as a profession” across adults’ and children’s services.
The idea of child specialisation in the social work degree was proposed by the government before Laming’s report, and was included in the looked-after children white paper in 2007.
In its taskforce submission, ADCS also said insufficient high-quality student placements with statutory agencies particularly affected those wanting to specialise in working with children. It partly blamed a “lack of commitment” from employers but pointed out that they did not receive payment for placements.
The association proposed the creation of a centrally funded “placement manager” in every local authority to organise and allocate placements. Existing similar posts were vulnerable as they were not statutory, ADCS said. It also called for a funding mechanism to support local authorities in providing placements.
Newly-qualified social workers
The association recommended that newly-qualified social workers should have an initial limited number of cases including a cap on the number of complex cases. New recruits could “gradually progress” to a full caseload under supervision, it suggested.
The ADCS supported Lamings’ recommendation that newly qualified social work graduates should be required to undertake at least a year of practice-based work experience. It also said that a licence to practice should only be granted after this period.
The association called for the Social Work Task Force recommendations to be fully resourced and pointed out that low pay was one of the key factors affecting the status and morale of social workers. “To address this without the proper resources will put further pressure on the tight budgets of local authority children’s services departments and disrupt organisational stability,” it warned.
The deadline for submissions to the Social Work Task Force was 1 June. It will report in the autumn.
You can read Community Care‘s own submission here.