Austerity is not an excuse for more children coming into care, a former deputy director of children’s services in Hackney has said.
Steve Goodman, currently a director of Morning Lane Associates, was speaking at a Frontline Leadership Event when he argued that excessive procedure, policy and guidance “fetters social work practice”.
“What this government is doing to poor families is atrocious. The food banks, the rubbish private housing, the precarious employment position of people is awful. But that does not mean we should add to that awfulness by taking people’s children away when we don’t need to.
“People’s lives are worse, that doesn’t mean that we need to compound that,” Goodman said.
Leaders are responsible
Goodman also stated that children’s service leaders need to take more responsibility for supporting social workers to spend more time with families.
He said the system “binds” social workers and directors and added leaders should be “trying to limit the amount of guidance, procedures and policies that surround social workers”.
“What tends to happen is social workers have caseloads that are far too large and it’s them individually that have to manage themselves along with their cases. Leaders themselves have to take responsibility to make sure their social work staff have enough time to do social work,” Goodman said.
Reflecting on the implementation of the reclaiming social work model of practice in Hackney, he said he and other leaders made the decision to close “half of the cases that were allocated”, which he said led to practitioners spending twice as much time with families.
You can watch Goodman’s full speech on leadership in social work below.