The co-chairs of the nascent College of Social Work have vowed to get it up and running as soon as possible now that its interim board is in place.
Maurice Bates and Corinne May-Chahal said the board would meet on 19 November to decide on the kind of legal entity the college will be when it is officially launched next March.
The four options are for it to be a charity, a company, a charity that owns a company or a company that owns a charity.
“The development team has done some fantastic work but now we need to move on and own the college,” said May-Chahal.
The board, which was appointed last month and comprises 10 qualified social workers and a service user, is also expected to decide on partnership arrangements with trade unions and the British Association of Social Workers.
Earlier this year, BASW developed a proposal that could result in its merger with the college. It will present the plan to the interim board at this month’s meeting.
However, BASW’s members will have the final say on whether to merge with the college at the association’s annual meeting next spring.
The board will also discuss a business model based on a partnership agreement with trade unions such as Unison, which represents 40,000 social workers.
Other priorities before the year end include developing a base of volunteers and talking to employers about engaging social workers with the college, particularly those in rural areas.
“We’ve pencilled in two interim board meetings before Christmas because we’ve got a massive amount to do,” said Bates.
Underlying this will be the findings from a consultation on the proposed roles and functions of the college.
The consultation threw up no big surprises, according to the co-chairs. The full results are expected to be published this week.
Most of the social workers, service users, students and academics who responded agreed that the college should speak up for the profession.
May-Chahal said she and Bates had already begun to engage with the media. She has already spoken up for social workers during a radio debate after the retrospective publication of the full serious case reviews into the Baby P case.
She also chairs the sub-group on media and public engagement for Eileen Munro’s review of child protection.
Nearly all the respondents to the consultation said the college should work on improving policymakers’ understanding of the profession.
“I think there’s a role for the college to feed up from the frontline through to government about the emerging issues and how we might tackle those in a policy context,” said May-Chahal.
“The Munro review is a good example of that; it’s something set up by government that the college can speak to.”
Bates has applied to sit on the Health Professions Council’s professional liaison group to discuss issues arising from the transfer of responsibility for social workers’ registration and conduct from the General Social Care Council.
He said the college had become even more important in light of these changes to the regulation of social workers in England.
“Clearly, there are opportunities there, but we need to make sure we can resource them, that we can be geared up sufficiently to take advantage,” he said.
This made the timescale set for becoming self-financing by 2012 “extremely tight and challenging”.
Although Bates did not rule out asking the government for more funding, he said it was not something the board wanted to do.
“The independence of the college is vital,” he said.
“The discussions going on between the regulators points that out; the college must be able to stand back and have an independent view and consider what’s best for the profession and people who use services.”
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