Social workers don’t understand probation and youth offending roles, report finds

Inspection found children's social workers do not recognise the child safeguarding expertise that probation staff possess

Children’s social workers do not properly understand the role of probation trusts and youth offending teams when it comes to child safeguarding, an inspection has found.

The joint inspection, carried out by HM Inspectorate of Probation, followed mainstream inspections of youth offending team and probation work, which suggested that child protection was not being consistently delivered well enough.

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Check out the Community Care Inform Guide on joint work between children’s social care and youth offending teams

Inspectors found children’s social care staff did not recognise the expertise, or explore the potential contribution, of probation staff when it came to child safeguarding.

The inspectors examined 85 referrals from probation trusts and youth offending teams to children’s social care services, 138 orders held by probation trusts and youth offending teams and 78 cases where a child protection plan had been, or was in, place.

Despite the requirement for joint safeguarding work, the contribution of youth offending teams and probation trusts is generally not well integrated into joint child protection work, inspectors found. This is due to a lack of knowledge about their respective roles.

Paul McDowell, chief inspector of probation, said child protection is not the sole responsibility of any one organisation. “The success of this important work is dependent on joint working arrangements between agencies,” he said. “But our inspection found that too often work took place in isolated organisational ‘silos’.”

Youth offending teams and probations trusts were also found to be undertaking little joint planning with other agencies, while the report identified recurrent poor practice.

It found children’s social care services did not always facilitate good information sharing, while co-operative work between agencies was discovered to be “confined to information sharing rather than effective joint intervention”.

Some good practice was also highlighted by inspectors, however. This included youth offending teams that were well connected to children’s social care services and some excellent direct work with children.

Among its recommendations to improve child safeguarding, the report said Local Safeguarding Children Boards would need to “promote better understanding across social care staff of the roles and responsibilities of probation and youth offending staff.”

McDowell added that if child protection arrangements are to be successful and effective, senior managers in probation services and youth offending services need to engage at a strategic level with other agencies.

This inspection precedes the introduction of integrated inspections of services for children, which is currently under consultation.

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4 Responses to Social workers don’t understand probation and youth offending roles, report finds

  1. Asif August 14, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    social workers can help those who think that they have lost all the charm of their life but a real motivated kind hearted and a soft thinking social worker can convince them and bring them back to a simple life

  2. Roselyn Thompson August 15, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

    I am strongly disagree with the statement in the Community Care Magazine stated, “Social Worker don’t understand Probation and Youth Workers’ role. For start I can demonstrate the role of a youth worker and that of a probation officer. I work as a youth worker in Manchester and Oldham in the 1990s and as a youth and probation worker I have worked with some of the most disadvantage and disaffected youth and their families and carers. In my time I have get youth back into education, training and employment and company such as TESCO, Wilkinson. ADAS I approached them with young people and they worked with me and trusted my judgement that the youth will show respect and honesty and work hard. I

    To get the best out of young people one must understand that he/she is there to work with the young person to change their lives. It all about working together as professionals in the best interest of the individuals. I always try and find out why they offend and worked through the situations with them and their families. I am very professional and very black and white the will understand the consequences of re-offending….this is what the laws says, I am here to help you change and to support you to be a better citizen.

  3. Terry Sullivan August 21, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    I am both a Social Worker & a Probation officer. Confusion arises when one considers that Probation training no longer includes social work practice. Consequently the subjective findings of this article serve only to confuse matters further. It just is not true to say that those trained under social work criteria, as in the past, do not have significant child protection & safeguarding experience & practice skills.

  4. Jeremy Whittle August 27, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    As ever in these matters, we will always find pockets of good practice – such as Roselyn 🙂 – somewhere in the country, but in general, we find the issues are an ongoing challenge for many. The prison system for example, has many young people (18-21) who where looked after but now have leaving care status. Tracking them and providing post-custodial resettlement support proves to be an area of weakness nationally. This is a work-stream that we hope to begin addressing in the Autumn.