The white paper on children in care published this week has massive potential.
It plans to help the children maintain important relationships, go on school trips, have private lessons, obtain financial help to go on to university, and have more of a say about when to leave care. All these are to be welcomed.
The paper also talks about the possibility of a named health professional for every child in care, and promises to keep under review the demand by young people to stay in care beyond 18.
But behind all these proposals are plans to change the face of children’s social work. Some are positive, for example, an induction year with guaranteed support for newly qualified social workers. Others are more worrying, such as the proposed “greater child specialisation in the social work qualifying degrees”.
While no one would argue with the concept of children’s social workers being properly equipped for the job, this must not be at the cost of their understanding of adults’ issues or to the detriment of adult social workers’ understanding of children’s issues. How else will they be able to deal with family-wide issues such as domestic violence or parental mental illness?
We must improve services for children in care, but social work training must also remain generic.
Education to be at heart of looked-after children’s care
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This article appeared 28 June issue under the headline “The potential is there”