BASW slams ‘aspirational’ guidance on health and welfare of looked-after children

Social workers respond to government consultation on the guidance, which would come into force in March this year

baby on swing
Credit: Gary Brigden

The British Association of Social Workers claims ‘rhetoric does not match up to reality’ in the government’s updated statutory guidance on promoting the health and welfare of looked-after children.

“Like so much statutory guidance that precedes it, there is a danger that this ends up being a series of well-intentioned statements that cannot be properly implemented particularly in these straitened economic times,” the consultation response from the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) said.

The joint consultation from the Department for Education and Department of Health is on proposed updated statutory guidance, which would come into force in March this year.


Much of the updated guidance is “aspirational”, according to BASW, that thinks, “even with the best will in the world, the present financial context has rendered local authorities into such a parlous state they simply do not have the resources to respond to the ever increasing demands that are being made of them”.

“Whilst it is difficult for anyone to argue with what is written in this document it does need to be balanced against the present and future capacity of local authorities to deliver,” the response said.

Using a “broad brush approach” in the proposed guidance was also criticised. Instead, the guidance needs to promote a more holistic approach to meeting the emotional and psychological needs of children and young people, BASW stated.

Case studies

BASW called for the guidance to include case studies that show the complex situations social workers and health professionals deal with, arguing the current focus on lists of guidance, regulations and legislation are a, “considerable demand on hard pressed practitioners’ time in a climate where CPD is not being prioritised by employers because of the inexorable pressures on the system”.

Failing to reference obligations to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and other relevant conventions and treaties, was criticised by the association, as was failing to include international studies or pieces of research about childhood.

“It pays scant regard to promoting the rights of children, evidenced by the absence of choice, and little or no stress placed on the active participation of children and young people,” it said.

The government is currently considering responses to the proposals.

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