Letters to Community Care, 26 November 2009

Can parents be left to get on with it?

Michael Fitzpatrick (“The drift towards professional parenting”, 12 November), suggests that “parents need to accept full responsibility for bringing up their children, because professionals, in truth, can’t help them”. He characterises social workers and health visitors as “ready and willing to boss parents around” despite having “no professional expertise in child-rearing and family relationships”.

If professional colleagues are so ignorant about social work skills, knowledge and training is it any wonder that the general public has similarly little understanding?

Paul Adam, independent social worker

It is indeed inappropriate for parents to seek advice about parenting from GPs. However, I would argue that the fact that so many people seek advice from their doctor may have more to do with the lack of clarity about who parents should turn to for support if they do experience problems.

The Supernanny phenomena shows that many people want a place to discuss the challenges involved in parenting rather than a desire to be “bossed around a bit”. Perhaps admitting this to a GP is preferred because it is still not socially acceptable to reveal that parenting a child can push you to the edge. The central focus of any debate about parenting support should be on the child. The UK is still a place where it is acceptable to shout at and belittle a child.

Michael Fitzpatrick is right that parenting support could easily be an “intrusion into intimate family relationships” and as such parenting support needs to be offered sensitively. But there are assumptions within the article that all parents should be left to get on with the job and that all parenting is acceptable.

My experience working with children and families revealed parenting to be a major issue for those I worked with. For a whole host of reasons, many parents had not learned the necessary skills to be able to provide positive and consistent relationships and support to their children. Their children were adversely affected by this. If we value positive parenting as a society we must also mentor and provide support for parents who struggle with this.

Alison Domakin, senior lecturer in social work, Manchester Metropolitan University

Wardle not the only guilty one at GSCC

Your coverage of the report into the gross mismanagement of the conduct cases by the General Social Care Council draws little attention to the implications of one of the key findings of the investigation (news, 12 November).

Mike Wardle as chief executive was suspended in July when it was “discovered” there were 200 uninvestigated allegations into misconduct.

The report, however, finds that the backlog had existed “for many years”, and sometimes consisted of as many as 700 cases. Everyone at the GSCC knew about it but did not appear to understand the implications of allowing people, who had serious allegations of misconduct against them, to work with children and vulnerable adults.

This clearly means that those who have now left senior jobs with the council are also culpable. Your reporter says that the former chair Sir Rodney Brooke, who stepped down after six years last November, is “implicitly criticised”.

However, he is not named and the article does not say that he has now found himself chairing another quango – the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

Also not named is Mike Wardle’s predecessor Lynne Berry, who joined when the council was set up in 2001, and left to run the WRVS in September 2007.

If Wardle – whom, incidentally, I do not know and have never met – has paid the price, it is one he is also paying on behalf of others.

Thomas Headland, Birmingham

Related articles

Plan for reform of GSCC

Don’t make us pay more to practise

I was appalled to read the costs that social workers have to pay to be registered with the GSCC could rise to as much as £300.

This strikes me as the profession being penalised for someone else’s failings. The majority of unqualified or qualified workers will have either worked hard to fund getting a qualification or put themselves in debt.

Social workers are leaving the profession in droves. Now they want to hit us again in the pocket. I have no problems in being registered with a body such as the GSCC but I strongly object to having to pay any more to practise.

Colin Saunders, independent reviewing officer

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