A draft statement on the roles and tasks of children’s social workers fails to reflect the social factors affecting communities, experts have said.
The Children’s Workforce Development Council published a 14-page consultation document last week outlining the skills, knowledge and overall contribution of professionals in a project commissioned by the Social Work Task Force.
It discusses the unique role of social workers in supporting “mothers, fathers and families who experience a range of difficulties”, and cites bringing up disabled children, parents placing their children at risk, and people struggling to engage with services and society, as three issues underlying families’ need for support.
However, Eileen Munro (right), professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, said the statement failed to fully explain these issues or the social context in which professionals in England are working.
“The words ‘poverty’, ‘social exclusion’ and ‘racism’ do not appear anywhere in the document although they apply to so many of the families who need social work services,” she said.
Munro said it was a “highly political” statement which downplayed “structural factors that create adverse conditions for families”. Her comments were echoed by Helen Bulpitt, deputy director of the Higher Education Academy Social Policy and Social Work Subject Centre, which provides resources to social work training providers across the UK.
Bulpitt said the document provided a useful introduction to the profession for students. But she added: “It doesn’t go into all the issues that social workers have to understand, like poverty, stigma, social exclusion.”
The taskforce commissioned CWDC, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, Skills for Care and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services to produce a statement on the roles and tasks of social workers, to inform its final conclusions.
The latter two organisations are expected to produce a statement on social work with adults.