Lord Laming urges social work training and management overhaul

Lord Laming has called for an overhaul of child protection social work training, strengthened management accountability and new targets on safeguarding in his report today.
He also proposed the creation of a National Safeguarding Delivery Unit to ensure his 58 recommendations are carried out within “challenging timescales”.

Children’s secretary Ed Balls has accepted all of the recommendations on behalf of the government and will produce a full action plan in April. Children’s services and social work leaders have also welcomed the report.

Degree specialisation

Key measures include allowing students to specialise in children’s social work after the first year of their degrees and the creation of a new postgraduate qualification for experienced children’s social workers.
He also called on the government to place the General Social Care Council’s code of practice for employers of social workers on a statutory footing.

Watch Maria Ahmed’s report from the Laming launch

Judging performance

Speaking today as he published his report, ordered following the Baby P case, Laming said the performance of managers needed to be judged “primarily or solely on the quality of services delivered at the front door”.
He also recommended reviewing the Working Together to Safeguard Children and called for a review of the big hike in care fees introduced last year.
He said the Ministry of Justice should appoint an independent person to review the impact of the fees in the coming months.
His report said that the fees should be abolished in the absence of “incontrovertible evidence” that the hike has not acted as a deterrent to councils pursuing care cases.
He also urged the MoJ to place a target to reduce delays in the public law system on all agencies involved.

Drive and authority

“We will have to be impatient”, he said of his proposed reforms. “I hope [the safeguarding unit] will bring a degree of drive and authority that will ensure things happen quickly.”
On serious case reviews, Laming said they should not be published in full but said executive summaries should accurately represent the reports.
He also said local safeguarding children boards and children’s trusts should not be chaired by the same person, clearing the way for LSCBs to be chaired by people independent of the agencies involved.
On social work supervision and caseloads, he called on the Social Work Taskforce to establish guidelines on guaranteed supervision time and maximum caseloads.
He also called for the integrated children’s system – the government-ordered case management system for children’s social care – to be nationally co-ordinated to end inconsistencies between local areas.

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