A proposed change to Working Together guidance which would see social workers not having to consult managers on certain assessment decisions is “vehemently opposed” by practitioners, a consultation response has said.
In its submission to the consultation on changes to working together guidance, which closed at the end of December, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) said a there was “a lot of concern” among members about changes to social work assessments listed as a “minor” change in the document.
The government had proposed deleting the phrase “with their managers” from a section outlining how social workers should progress with assessments after a case is referred to children’s social care.
At the time of the consultation being launched, BASW warned the omission could leave social workers “exposed”.
Changes in full (emphasis added):
The current guidance says about timeliness: “The speed with which an assessment is carried out after a child’s case has been referred into local authority children’s social care should be determined by the needs of the individual child and the nature and level of any risk of harm faced by the child. This will require judgements to be made by the social worker in discussion with their manager on each individual case.”
This will now read: “The speed with which an assessment is carried out after a child’s case has been referred into local authority children’s social care should be determined by the needs of the individual child and the nature and level of any risk of harm faced by the child. This will require judgements to be made by the social worker on each individual case.”
In its full consultation response, it said members were “vehemently opposed” to the change given managers “are crucial in terms of accountability and shared responsibility”.
BASW added the government had provided “no reason” for doing this, and that it would be a “high risk strategy” during a current climate of high turnover and an inexperienced workforce.
“When Working Together was revised in 2013 BASW England fought very hard for the inclusion of managers in the guidance as it was originally absent in the original draft consultation, so we are extremely disappointed by the omission.”
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), in its own response to the consultation, likewise said this change would be a “significant amendment”.
“ADCS believes this warrants further discussion about the drivers for this change and the potential implications this may have, not least with the sector regulator,” the response said.