Understanding residential care should be a bigger part of social work training and reform, children’s services directors have said.
In a submission to Sir Martin Narey’s review of residential childcare, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) also said it was “disappointing” that the knowledge and skills statement did not reference residential care.
“It is important the role of residential care features strongly within social work training to ensure future social workers fully understand the role it plays within the care system along with their role in the commissioning and placement process, e.g. placement planning, and identifying and describing presenting needs, along with a young person’s strengths and weaknesses,” the ADCS’s response said.
It added: “At the end of the assessed and supported year in employment, newly qualified social workers will be assessed against the DfE’s knowledge and skills statement (KSS) for child and family social work [and] therefore it is disappointing that the KSS does not directly reference residential care.
“The wider social work reform agenda should incorporate issues around residential care to ensure experienced social workers are able to identify those cases where foster care is not appropriate and other forms of intensive support, such as residential care, are needed.”
The review, announced in October, is looking at the role of children’s homes, what works in residential care and how outcomes for young people who live in the homes could be improved. A call for evidence closed on 31 December 2015.
No specific training
The British Association of Social Workers (BASW), in its response to the review, called for more formal training for residential care home workers. It said: “Unfortunately, besides generic health and social care qualifications there is no specific residential work training qualification in England.”
Narey will be giving evidence about the review to MPs on Wednesday (27 January), and both bodies were concerned about negative perceptions of residential care, which they said was too often considered a “last resort”.
BASW also warned that thorough assessments aren’t often completed before a child is placed in residential care because of “time restrictions, resource limitations, heavy caseloads and other factors – a young person will consequently be slotted into an available resource offered by the local authority commissioner”.
BASW was critical that Narey’s review was happening so soon after the 2013 care inquiry, completed by eight charities, and it hoped that the recommendations of the 2013 inquiry would be implemented as a result of Narey’s review. The recommendations included making sure children have the same social worker for two to three years.
The ADCS warned that homes had served notice on placements for young people if they felt these were “at risk of jeopardising their Ofsted grading”.
It said: “ADCS members believe that the risk averse culture many residential care homes have adopted in relation to accepting complex and challenging young people is an unintended consequence of the current inspection regime and a direct result of the four grade single word judgement.”