Children’s home workers should face the same professional registration requirements as social workers, the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse has said.
The inquiry’s interim report said it was “very concerned by the absence of professional registration for those working in care roles in children’s homes in England”.
It said children in residential settings were “particularly vulnerable to abuse by adults” working in them, yet in England social workers are the only staff working in residential homes who must be registered.
In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland children’s home workers must be professionally registered.
“There is no requirement for individual care workers, other than social workers, to register with an independent body charged with raising standards within the profession and supervising their fitness to practise. Regulation of a care setting by an independent inspectorate complements effective professional workforce registration ‒ it does not replace it,” the report said.
It said the Care Standards Act 2000 provided the legislative groundwork to register these professionals, but it was never enacted and was subsequently amended. The inquiry called on the government to address this
Position of trust
The call comes as the inquiry revealed that a “significant proportion” of victims and survivors taking part in The Truth Project said they were abused by people in a position of trust.
“Nearly one in three (28%) were abused by family members and around a quarter (23%) have said that they were abused by teaching or educational staff,” the report revealed.
A further fifth were said to have been abused by perpetrators such as friends of the family or trusted members of the community and “nearly one in eight (12%) have indicated that they were abused by other professionals, such as medical practitioners, social workers and police.”
An emerging theme identified by the inquiry was that common ways of thinking about child sexual abuse had “deflected responsibility away from perpetrators and institutions”, denied harm and failed to accept abuse had taken place.
It said open and honest leadership and discussion about child sexual abuse was needed within institutions to effectively tackle it.
Struggle to access records
The inquiry has also heard how adult victims struggle to access records relating to their childhood.
“Often victims and survivors are seeking access to records to help them understand how the abuse they suffered happened or why it was allowed to continue. The inquiry has heard of instances where records were not created in the first place or have now been lost or destroyed. This can be distressing to victims and survivors, and can lead to perceptions of cover-up,” the report said.
Alexis Jay, chair of the inquiry, said the report draws together the key themes emerging from the more than 1,000 victims that have participated, five public hearings and eight seminars.