The British Association of Social Workers has called on the main political parties to shift children’s services policy towards early intervention and tackling poverty.
The association’s manifesto for social work, published this week, warned the rising numbers of children in care was a result of policy being “tipped too far towards removal of children at points of crisis”.
Any future government should empower social workers to tackle disadvantage, prevent family separation and provide skilled family interventions to improve outcomes for children and adults, the manifesto said.
To address “unmanageably high” workloads, a future government should also work with BASW to create national policy that improves the working context for social workers, the manifesto said.
BASW also called for a sustainable funding settlement for adult social care, more funding for social work university degrees and for a future government to recognise BASW as the professional body for social work.
“Social work and social workers across the UK need a strong, independent professional body that promotes best practice and self-determination of the profession in the long term,” the manifesto said.
BASW listed eight priorities for political parties to adopt:
- End austerity policies that cause harm to children, adults and families with care and support needs
- Work with BASW and partners across the sector to ensure social workers have manageable workloads, effective organizational models and the right working conditions for excellent practice
- Commit to continued adequate funding for university education for qualifying social workers, ensuring the numbers of new entrants meets future workforce demand in all fields of practice
- Ensure a realistic and sustainable settlement for adult social care across all countries of the UK
- Shift children and families policy towards tackling child poverty and intervening early to support families and communities. Ensure strong, coherent democratic accountability for statutory social work services.
- Improve the resourcing and recognition of social work within mental health services
- Ensure parity between unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and other young people in care
- Recognise BASW as the professional body for social work and social workers, and work with it to improve the standing of the profession
Ruth Allen, BASW’s chief executive, and Guy Shennan, BASW chair, called on social workers to use the manifesto to ask prospective MPs what they would do to address the issues.
In a statement, the pair said: “Take this opportunity to promote social work values and advocate for the wellbeing of all and particularly those in need of care or support or whose rights are at risk. This is part of being a social worker.”