All children’s social work training should include reflective practice according to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).
In their joint guidance on improving the quality of life for looked-after children, published today, it was recommended the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) “pay particular attention to developing reflective practice as an integral part of professional training for those working with looked-after children and young people”.
Councils should also ensure social workers had access to “consultancy services based on the concept of reflective practice”. These consultancy services could be delivered in-house, by external advisers or by child and adolescent mental health (CAMHS) services.
Other recommendations include Ofsted inspections on how well agencies are pooling mainstream budgets.
“Commissioners should ensure there are pooled and aligned budgets for looked-after children and young people who are likely to require highly specialised care placements for a significant period. This should include a robust protocol for sharing payments for placements that have a healthcare component. This is especially applicable to a “best placement” decision where an integrated package of care and therapeutic, psychological or psychiatric input is purchased.”
Ofsted inspection frameworks should also be extended to care leavers aged 18 and over and children should be allowed to stay in children’s homes past the age of 18 if it was felt to be appropriate for their continuing needs.
The institutes advise that children’s social workers should be responsible for co-ordinating and managing the multi-disciplinary care plan for children and young people, including the transition into adults services. However, they should also be able to request, through line managers, a review of a care plan if they feel the needs of a child or young person are not being met or are being delayed. To help in this role social workers should have access to health records.
The number of placement moves made against the wishes of a child or young person should be audited while decisions about leaving care should be based on the developmental stage of the child or young person as well as their age.
When dealing with babies or toddlers social workers should also have access to specialist mental health services and training in identifying attachment difficulties and effects of prenatal substance exposure, NICE and SCIE claim.
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