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Independent social work; Autism; Adoption; Munro

round up.jpgAfter an eye-opening few days shadowing social workers (more on that soon), it’s back to business as usual. Here’s a quick spin around this week’s social care news. 



Yesterday’s big story: An Oxford university study has found independent social workers do not delay family court proceedings and add considerable value in complex cases. This is, of course, contrary to the view of some critics who feel their reports simply duplicate the work of the local authority and prolong cases unnecessarily. I went to the launch of the research yesterday, where lawyers and ISWs felt vindicated by its findings. They can only hope the government takes note of the research in its ongoing family justice reforms. And although there are no easy answers (local authorities may always feel a second opinion is superfluous in certain cases), hopefully the research will widen out the debate. 


If this affects you, you might be interested in the full Oxford report, led by Dr Julia Brophy, and this social work guide to writing reports for family courts.


Also critical to the timeliness of care cases is the ongoing implementation of Eileen Munro’s recommendations, yet – as we’ve previously reported – social workers are frustrated that progress is stalling. And everyone’s frustrated at the delay and confusion around Working Together. We’ve updated our Munro special report with the latest progress so check it out here.


It’s not been a great week for Great Ormond Street children’s hospital. Following a BBC London investigation on Wednesday night – which exposed failings at the institution – a couple acquitted of murdering their four-year-old son have now called for an inquiry into Great Ormond Street and University College hospitals, both of which cared for the child before his death. 


I’m very pleased to see an MP questioned Tim Loughton over (the biggest) gap in the government’s adoption agenda. In the first Minister’s questions following the recess, Mark Lancaster, MP for Milton Keynes North, said: “I am calling for the government to recognise that although the changes to adoption will help more children find loving families, it is just as important that their needs aren’t forgotten about once they are in placement. A commitment to statutory support will lead to improved life chances for thousands of adopted children.”


I’ve also been catching up on the child abuse scandal at Medomsley young offender institution that’s rocked the prison service and made commentators very angry


Lastly, Louis Theroux returned to our screens last night with a moving film about autism in the US (let’s hope he follows up with a UK version). Theroux – whose deceptively wide-eyed and bumbling Englishman routine has gone down a treat in America – peered into the homes and schools of autistic young people and the families who love them, including those who’ve had to reassess what parental love, and commitment, really is. You can, and should, catch Extreme Love on iplayer now. (Picture credit: Benimoto on flickr)
Camilla Pemberton, journalist,

About Camilla Pemberton, journalist,

Camilla Pemberton is Community Care's children's editor

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