Munro backs separate chief social workers for children and adults

Ministers' child protection reviewer backs government shift, saying single chief would "drown" under pressure of covering children's and adults' services.

Munro's child protection review called for a single chief social worker

Professor Eileen Munro has backed the government’s plan to appoint two chief social workers for England, one for adults’ services and one for children and families, despite proposing a single post in her child protection review.

She said today that it would be better to have two successful post-holders than one who would “drown” under the pressure of the combined role she initially suggested.

Her review for government, published in May 2011, recommended that the government create one post covering children’s and adults’ services, to recognise “the interconnectedness of issues facing children and families as well as not unintentionally dividing the social work profession”.

However, speaking to Community Care today, Munro said the government’s change in direction was “sensible” given the major reforms in both children’s and adults’ services. The government started its hunt for a single chief social worker in April, advertising the post with a salary of £110,000; in August sources said three candidates were in the running, but no appointment was made.

“Based on the experience of trying to appoint a single chief social worker, and realising that in this given point in history there are substantial changes going on in both children’s and adults’ services, all that entails is too big a job for one person,” said Munro. “Whether we work towards a single chief social worker is another matter.”

She said her initial recommendation of one chief social worker was “very much on balance because I was aware it was a huge job for one person”. Commenting on criticisms, notably from the British Association of Social Workers and The College of Social Work, that the government’s plans could split the social work profession, Munro said it was “up to social workers ourselves to say that we see ourselves as a single profession”.

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