Independent social worker role should end, says ADCS chief

Independent social workers' role in court should cease, according to Marion Davis, president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services.

Independent social workers’ (ISWs) role in court should cease, according to Marion Davis, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS).

“We think they are an expensive part of the landscape,” Davis told Community Care. “Independent social workers are just some of the enormous number of people checking on what social workers do, which can undermine social workers’ professional judgement.”

Davis said that over time, roles such as that of ISWs had a “detrimental effect” on the social work profession and morale. She said Eileen Munro’s review – on which Davis is a reference group member – would be “extremely helpful” in boosting social work confidence.

When asked if the absence of ISWs in courts would have an impact on proceedings, Davis said: “I can’t think of one.”

The ADCS has also called for the current model of serious case reviews (SCRs) to be replaced by an “appreciative enquiry” approach to maximise learning and focus less on blame.

“It’s an approach that’s been developed over a period of time and is being piloted in several places around the country, led by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (Scie),” she said. “It’s a much more thoughtful, wider-ranging way of going about looking at what’s happened.”

Davis said there was solid evidence from the pilots that cases put through this approach led to “much more learning” than in the current SCR system.

The approach, based on a model from the US, creates recommendations based on good practice. It also involves practitioners in the process of identifying good practice alongside researchers, with the aim of maximising the impact of the research.

Davis said she believed there was a “lot of scope” within Munro’s review to “have a good look at this”.

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