(pictured: College of Social Work interim chairs Maurice Bates and Corinne May-Chahal)
It is inevitable that local authority social work will be affected as council budgets shrink by 28% over the next four years, but the question is how? How many councils will trim spending in a way that respects social work as a profession, as well as service users?
It is likely that some will have been better than others at recognising the professional contribution social workers make to the lives of service users. Where local authorities fall short on this, the College of Social Work will soon be in a position to make a difference.
Our job is to speak up for social work and to help implement the professional capabilities framework, a clear set of practice standards recommended by the Social Work Reform Board, which employers and employees will be expected to uphold.
Employers will need to create the conditions under which social workers can maintain their practice standards. We want employers to be inspected against their own national framework which will act as a benchmark ensuring that practitioners, managers, students and educators can achieve the highest standards and deliver the best quality of service. The College of Social Work will inherit the professional capabilities framework from the reform board and will work with our prospective members to develop it.
The government wants the College to offer professional leadership, working with the profession and employers to implement reform and help to give it the respect and standing that it deserves. But excellent professional leadership demands that we give excellent support to our members.
So we will provide guidance and learning resources for social workers to meet the new professional capabilities framework, and we will work with the inspectorates to ensure that employers enable practitioners to achieve the required standards. A recognition scheme will incentivise employers to show that they are working to the agreed criteria and are providing their staff with enough supervision and access to good continuing professional development. And we will advise social workers what to do if their employer does not meet these standards.
We will also develop an endorsement process for education and training providers, so that social workers can have full confidence in them. None of this will happen overnight, but we are building a College to help the profession be the very best it can be. Taking forward the work of the reform board will help us do just that.
Maurice Bates and Corinne May-Chahal are the interim co-chairs of the College of Social Work
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