Children’s services shouldn’t ‘add to awfulness’ by unnecessarily removing children, social workers told

Steve Goodman says children's services and social workers shouldn't compound a bad situation for families suffering from austerity by removing children from their care

Steve Goodman. Photo: Frontline

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.

9 Responses to Children’s services shouldn’t ‘add to awfulness’ by unnecessarily removing children, social workers told

  1. Alan brunwin May 24, 2018 at 10:58 am #

    Its so true Steve Goodman has spoken the real truth and I take my hat off to this gentleman. Alan brunwin children’s author

  2. Eve white May 25, 2018 at 12:13 am #

    I agree with every thing that Mr Goodman has said. Now is the time to put it into action. Well done Mr Goodman

  3. Sue Nami May 25, 2018 at 3:34 am #

    If practitioners have twice the time to spend with families, does that mean that families want that time spent with them?

  4. Tom J May 25, 2018 at 12:30 pm #

    Great article. I have seen many neglect cases where due to the procedural nature of child protection work- we are simply an extra thorn in the side of the struggling parents.

    Child protection social workers have limited time, less resources, many targets i.e. fortnightly visits, and are trained to view parents with suspicion in case their case is the next Baby P or Daniel Pelka.

    • Leah May 27, 2018 at 8:17 am #

      I agree.

  5. Sam May 25, 2018 at 1:23 pm #

    I wholeheartedly agree with everything said and the cases that are held open drifting and not worked clearly don’t need our intervention if there hasn’t been a crisis in three months! Also social workers need to be able to explore their practice with managers trained in this approach such as Firstline managers as regular managerialistic and procedural led managers use fear and statistics to get ‘results’ which are not sustainable nor best outcome for the children we promise to safeguard. Hackney approach works very well and I’m hopeful it can be rolled out throughout children’s services in the Uk… can but hope…

  6. SA May 25, 2018 at 3:42 pm #

    Preaching to te converted he needs to take this message to Ofsted and government who make and inspect the regulations that bind us so tighly to a a culture of complaince.

  7. Jasmine Thornbury May 25, 2018 at 7:42 pm #

    Yes this is a good but unfortunately it should be eplemented all over the UK including Scotland as this I’m afraid is a little too late in my opinion!!

  8. EJ May 30, 2018 at 9:50 pm #

    The very same question should be posed regarding families with disabilities, considering so many parents are being accused of child abuse because of the lack of understanding of their child’s condition and active disability discrimination.

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