Munro: social workers lack communication tools and skills

Children’s social workers currently lack the training and tools necessary to develop productive relationships with the children they should be protecting, according to Professor Eileen Munro’s latest instalment of her review of England’s child protection.

The report, published today, said: “One question is whether social workers feel adequately trained to communicate with children. They may work with children of varied ages, ethnicities, and communication abilities who require an equally varied range of skills in the social worker.”

Munro said tools designed to help talk to children about what is going on could help. The report highlighted one such tool, the Three Houses model, which provides ways of talking to children about their worries and what they would like to happen through a combination of play, conversation and drawings.

Alternatively, Munro said the review was also considering whether the range of necessary skills warranted a greater level of specialism within the workforce, as well as better access to the skills of other professionals.

Munro said the benefits of any training or tools would not be seen, however, if management was not aware of the importance of direct communication with children and prioritised practitioners’ time accordingly.

Munro’s report also asked whether it was reasonable for a single worker to prioritise time with a child when conducting an inquiry into an allegation of abuse or neglect or subsequently working with the family when the other aspects of the work are also so important.

Munro said one solution would be to implement the model developed in Hackney, which has cases overseen by a team that includes a separate children’s worker who not only communicates with the child, but also represents the child’s views and needs in case discussions.

More from the second interim report

Social workers should be working more closely with universal services

Munro wants unannounced inspections for all children’s services

Munro looks to health sector for SCR inspiration

Social work management role should be split

Report says ICS creates as many problems as it solves

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Related articles:

Special report on the Munro review

Munro’s brief will consider ‘Hackney model’ of social work

Hackneys Steve Goodman on the council’s social work units

Munro: Social work management role should be split

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