Children`s services are reactive not universal, Climbie inquiry told

    Children’s services are reactive not universal, child protection
    experts told the first seminar of phase two of the Victoria Climbie
    inquiry, writes Lauren Revans.

    The 25 representatives from health, social care, police and the
    voluntary sector agreed problem-focused services and stigmatising
    eligibility criteria help contribute to social exclusion rather
    than reduce it.

    They feel that the inquisitorial role frontline social workers
    were obliged to take with potential new clients in order to assess
    eligibility and meet managers demands for statistics, was
    threatening and off-putting.

    Professor of psychiatric social work Colin Pritchard described
    the under-resourcing of children’s services behind stringent
    eligibility criteria as a “professional disgrace”.

    “Why are social workers sometimes apparently hostile to their
    clients? Because they feel their managers are demanding and their
    systems are equally hostile” Pritchard said.

    “You have three victims here the child, the damaged and
    disrupted parents and the poor frontline social worker trying to
    hold the whole thing together. Very often, that frontline social
    worker does not feel that they up there (managers) are looking
    after them. They are feeling that they are the next people to be
    quizzed and judged. That, I hate to say, is about resources.”

    In order to make services more responsive social workers should
    instead take their lead from voluntary sector organs such as the
    Samaritans and Childline, and ask fewer questions take more time to
    listen and develop relationships of trust, the inquiry heard.

    Dr Howard Baderman, a retired accident and emergency consultant,
    told the inquiry: “If one of the things we want to achieve is
    inclusiveness and encouraging people to seek help, I think we just
    have to bear in mind that pressing for too much information puts
    people off, raises the spectre of where it is going to go and of
    confidentiality.”

    Immediate past president of the Association of Directors of
    Social Services, Moira Gibb, said social workers no longer had time
    to reflect on their work, and that supervision sessions had
    effectively been reduced to an opportunity for managers to check
    the correct forms had been completed.

    Gibb added that the sector had failed to take advantage of the
    opportunity afforded by the Children Act 1989 to take a more
    strategic approach to children’s services.

     

     

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