Government wants voluntary sector to boost child protection social workers

The recruitment crisis in child protection is forcing the
government to look to the voluntary sector for boosting child
protection social worker numbers, children’s minister
Margaret Hodge has revealed, writes Sally

She said the government was in the earliest stages of looking at
how the sector could be used to build the capacity of the
workforce, which was still struggling with recruitment problems
caused by its poor image.

Speaking at an Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary
Organisations conference last week, Hodge added the government
“desperately want you [the voluntary sector] as deliverers as
well as planners and commissioners of services”.

But director of UK operations at Barnardo’s Chris Hanvey
said: “We have gone from a position where the voluntary
sector is hardly mentioned in the green paper, especially in
relation to children’s trusts, to one where the government
wants us to have a much more prominent role.”

He added: “The privilege of working in the voluntary sector
is that we are free of statutory responsibilities. I don’t
think many organisations will wish to see those duties transferred
to the voluntary sector.”

Hanvey went on to say that the sector was able to establish much
closer relationships with service users because “they
recognise we are not the ‘welfare.’

John Coughlan, co-chair of the Association of Directors of Social
Services’ children and families committee, said: “If
what we are saying is that the voluntary sector has the potential
to develop people who then may want to go on to become child
protection social workers that would be welcome. But if what is
being talked about is core child protection responsibilities being
redirected to the voluntary sector that would be more complex and

Earlier, chair of the charities bill scrutiny committee Alan
Milburn said the voluntary sector was already a major provider of
environmental regeneration, learning difficulties and mental health
services and its role could be expanded further.

But he added: “I do not believe the voluntary sector can
– or should – replace the state. The public sector and
the voluntary sector should be partners not rivals… this agenda
cannot be about the voluntary sector replacing the public


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