Government to test child social workers’ know-how

Government introduces a 'gold standard' for children and family social workers: approved child and family practitioner status

Isabelle Trowler
Isabelle Trowler, chief social worker for children

Chief social worker Isabelle Trowler today launched a ‘knowledge and skills statement‘ that sets out what children and families social workers need to know and do in one place.

The statement’s publication coincides with the introduction of what the Department of Education calls a “new gold standard” for children’s social workers: the approved child and family practitioner status.

The status will only be awarded to social workers who pass a test based on the knowledge and skills set out in Trowler’s statement.

“I’m determined to ensure we earn the public’s respect and confidence in our profession by ensuring that every child and family social worker is properly supported to do the job society needs them to do,” said Trowler.

“Having absolute clarity about what a social worker needs to know and be able to do and testing that knowledge and skill against a national standard is a critical part of this ambition.”

The knowledge and skills statement sets out what the government expects child and family social workers to know, including:

  • Identifying the full range of risks to children, be it sexual, physical and emotional abuse and neglect, as well as knowing how to protect them
  • Support families by strengthening their relationships, resilience and access to resources
  • Understand the impact of adult mental ill health, substance misuse and domestic violence on family functioning and child development
  • Plan for permanence for children who can no longer live at home
  • Help keep children safe from harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage

This statement follows Martin Narey’s review into the education of social workers, which forms the basis for the changes announced today. Narey said: “I think it has the potential to significantly improve the capacity and confidence of newly qualified social workers.”

Reacting to the news, Dave Hill, chair of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) workforce development committee, welcomed the move: “Clarification on the skills and knowledge required to undertake high quality social work with children and families is particularly helpful at a time of significant change in the landscape of children’s services.”

The government will be consulting on the knowledge and skills statement for the next 10 weeks.

Lyn Romeo, the chief social worker for adults, is currently developing a complementary statement for adult social workers.

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