Letters to Community Care 18 March 2010

Not much PQL going on? No mystery there!

Your report on the General Social Care Council annual report (news, 4 March, http://www.communitycare.co.uk/113937) highlights the shockingly low number of social workers now undertaking post-qualifying training.

The main reason is clear to anyone who cares to listen. Staff are simply overwhelmed with work. And matters are likely to get worse since training will be a main casualty of future cuts in funding. As your report also rightly points out, the GSCC code of practice requires social workers to undertake training and requires employers to train and develop their staff.

When Lord Laming’s 2009 report was published the government rightly promised that the GSCC code would be revised and then made mandatory by October 2009.

That timetable has slipped though I understand ministers are still committed to that plan. Until the code is made mandatory, it is difficult to see how the requirement for training will be complied with.

The government’s Social Work Task Force is committed to pushing forward an employers’ standard that I am confident will assist directors and staff who wish to ensure training and supervision are a priority, with ring-fenced funding.

As the general election approaches it would be interesting to know what the main parties plan to do to ensure the GSCC code does become mandatory in the very near future.

Perhaps Community Care could pop the question to them?

C4EO piece added to stigma of abuse…

I grew up in the care system and have long campaigned to end the stigmatisation and discrimination of care leavers.

So I was appalled by the article by the Centre for Excellence and Outcomes (“Engaging families where children may be suffering,” 4 March http://www.communitycare.co.uk/113919).

The article said that care leavers and those abused as children are more likely to become abusers of children.

This is totally without statistical foundation and another smear against care leavers and abuse victims.

To baldly make such a discriminatory statement is an attack on care leavers’ human right not to be discriminated against because of their social background.

Peddling myths such as these are fundamental to societal prejudices against care experienced people.

All those working in the community need to repel the notion that those who were abused as children go on to abuse.

I am aware of many care leaver victims whose response to their suffering has been to become parents who fully respect and care for their children.

It also needs to be stated that, were all children who suffered abuse to become abusers then after thousands of years of humanity, the whole population would be abusers.

Abuse of children takes place for a variety of reasons, often relating to issues of power and inadequacy, matters that transcend social background as evidenced by the Boarding School Survivors campaigns.

Phil Frampton, Former National Chair, Care Leavers Association and Community Care panel contributor

…and peddled false assumptions

A safeguarding briefing from the Centre for Excellence and Outcomes informs us how to identify and support children in families where they are at risk of suffering significant harm. (“Engaging families where children may be suffering,” 4 March http://www.communitycare.co.uk/113919).

It states that there is no clear message from research of methods that are effective with abusive families.

The unnamed authors are, however, preaching flawed and ill-informed approaches focusing on the assessment of need rather than the investigation of child abuse.

They do not include reference to Section 47 (Children Act 1989), joint investigation with police, strategy meetings, child protection conferences and plans, formal Achieving Best Evidence interviewing, or the statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children (DFES 2006).

They have certainly learned little from well known research which is clear that children gain protection when these protective procedures are in place.

Sadly, they have not learned the most basic lessons from the Victoria Climbié and Baby P cases or from academic critiques of the policy shift towards universal prevention strategies at the expense of targeted protective intervention.

The article showers us with assumptions including those about parents who have experience of childhood abuse or a history in care as most at risk of abusing children, an appalling insult to survivors and care leavers.

It concludes with a focus on children with problematic behaviour rather than as children with a right to protection from harm. I see no evidence of excellence in this briefing.

Liz Davies, Senior lecturer in social work, London Metropolitan University

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