Newly qualified social workers are particularly unprepared to deal with the challenges posed by child protection work. Extra training for all children’s social workers should be a priority for spending, the Munro Review has recommended.
In her final report on England’s child protection system, Professor Eileen Munro slammed current degree courses. She claimed they failed to provide crucial learning needed for effective child protection work such as detailed learning on child development, how to communicate with children and young people and using evidence based methods of working with children and families.
“Not all newly qualified social workers are emerging from degree courses with the necessary knowledge, skills and expertise; and they are especially unprepared to deal with the challenges posed by child protection work.
“Degree courses are not consistent in content, quality and outcomes – for child protection work, there are crucial things missing in some courses such as detailed learning on child development, how to communicate with children and young people and using evidence-based methods of working with children and families.
“Theory and research are not always well integrated with practice and there is a failure to align what is taught with the realities of contemporary social work practice.
“Increasing the expertise of the workforce requires investment but, in areas where local reforms have upgraded the knowledge and skill of the workforce, savings have been seen overall. Initially resources will be required to develop the additional expertise and training necessary to set the profession off on a new path and this is an area that the review considers to be a priority for investment.”
In her report, Munro set out the three areas she believed all children’s social workers needed to be expert in: relationship skills, reasoning and emotions and using evidence. She recommended these qualities be set out explicitly in the Social Work Reform Board’s professional capabilities framework.
She also called for three of the current capabilities – those on knowledge, critical reflection and analysis, and intervention and skills – to outline exactly how they should be applied in children’s social care.
“It is not claimed that the following capabilities are special to child and family social work but it is for others to decide whether they are relevant to other branches of social work.”
Among a range of recommendations Munro said all children’s social workers needed training on child development and attachment, the impact of parental problems such as domestic violence and substance misuse, and the long and short term impacts of abuse and neglect.
They should also be skilled in adopting an authoritative but compassionate style of working, have a knowledge of therapeutic theoretical frameworks, understand the roles and responsibilities of multi-agency partners and be able to present and explain their reasoning to diverse audiences including children and judges.
Munro also backed the reform board’s proposal to ensure all practice placements for students take place in designated approved practice settings.
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