MPs to investigate workforce pressures faced by children’s social workers

Select committee seeking input from professionals and people with experience of services to evaluate what is needed from and by practitioners

Image of pressure gauge (Photo: Palo/Flickr Creative Commons)
Photo: Palo/Flickr Creative Commons

MPs have launched an inquiry that will look into workforce pressures faced by children’s social workers and explore their ability to perform their roles.

The education select committee is inviting submissions from relevant parties including practitioners, employers, academics and people with lived experience of services, in response to mounting concerns relating to pressures on the child protection system, including around staff turnover.

The move comes less than three months after another select committee called on the government to report by the end of the year on social work pressures, and to invest in a national recruitment strategy to encourage people into the profession.

The education committee said the new inquiry was seeking to explore “what is needed from social work, and by social workers in 2019”.

It added that the committee would investigate the capacity and ability of social workers to intervene in a timely manner, uphold their professional responsibilities, access professional development and support and work with partners.

The MPs also said they were interested in the impact of changes to social work training – which has been transformed by new routes into the profession, including the Frontline fast-track programme – on the social work workforce.

Robert Halfon MP, the chair of the education committee, noted that despite social workers performing “vital” work with children and families, many service users continued to experience the worst life outcomes.

“Reports suggest that children are under increasing pressures as they grow up, facing up to a rise in mental health problems, a rise in knife crime and serious violence, and experiencing a range of challenges in areas such as social media use,” Halfon said.

“We want to explore what social work looks like in 2019 and examine the skills and support that social workers need to keep children and young people safe from harm and to help them grow up to thrive as adults.”

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9 Responses to MPs to investigate workforce pressures faced by children’s social workers

  1. Sally July 19, 2019 at 6:08 am #

    We’ll see… like so many times before. MP’s and government have ignored our pleas and research outcomes on the impact on children and families. This will likely be a whitewash in order not to raise significant areas government are responsible for and where huge cuts impact role of social workers: housing;education; health; police. I live in hope.

    • Helen July 19, 2019 at 9:53 am #

      Wont be a whitewash with the right government in place.
      Adult health and care services need this review also. Although as with children’s the problems lie with holding too many cases it is impossible to do any well. The solution more staff. I live in hope too.

  2. Disillusioned July 19, 2019 at 10:16 am #

    The work pressure this sector is experiencing is a product of its own punitive and draconian approach to a great extent.

    The organisation management along with hcpc has destroyed so many people and ended the career as so many social workers.

    It can be argued that it is important to have a regulatory body to ensure there is good service to the clients and the profession has the credibility, but I know of a number of cases where the managers have been protected even when their lapses have resulted in significant harm to the children and hcpc has stood by and done nothing.

    Money/ resources will not resolve the issue but the mindset of the managers, the hostile management have to change.

    • Kelly July 25, 2019 at 7:32 am #

      Here, here!!!!!!!!!!

  3. retiredearlythrouhghstress July 19, 2019 at 2:59 pm #

    I totally agree with ‘disillusioned’. I also beleive there are too many inexperienced front line managers, who have gone into Social Work purely with the aim of progressing to management level as quickly as possible, without understanding the importance of learning and practicing the skills needed in front line practice. Five years front line caseload experience, should be the minimum requirement for Social Work management, so that practitioners can develop and maximise their own potential. This will also reduce instances of staff bullying, where managers fear the knowledge gained through experience of team staff.

  4. Ann July 19, 2019 at 4:51 pm #

    I work with young adults from age 16 years upwards to 25 year olds with varying disabilities. I therefore see the pressures both children and adult social workers face.
    I am fortunate because I have supportive senior management who have acknowledged the work me and my colleagues do.
    The biggest challenges over the past few years which I have experienced is a lack of trained providers to complete the work we are commissioning as well as not being able to pay a descent rate for said services.
    Instead there are a number of providers who charge an excessive amount to provide an expert service which, quite frankly, they rarely provide.
    Also the usual high caseload but unsure this will ever change.

  5. Lost-hope July 20, 2019 at 11:00 am #

    Absolute disgrace!
    If you are a good worker you will get burnt out!
    If you know how to chat BS and make excuses you will get promoted to Management!
    The sheer number of case loads is crazy and the expectations to complete them in too short period of time!
    No time to engage service users properly…
    No time to make change!
    Social work today is more like being NEO in Matrix: constantly dodging bullets!
    HCPC taking Management sides without looking in to the whole thing properly…Too many Draconian style, Beuracratic managers who are still left in their ‘old fashioned thinking not willing to adapt…Too many managers who are prejudiced and some cases outright bully..Social work is in a right mess! More and more Complaints and litigation are coming through daily and it’s going to get worse..because your making decisions based on lack of time, less resources, stressed out, Bad management, and not meaningful supervision…rushing constantly! So it is a disgrace…the government needs to give more funding first before anything else! Just to recruit staff.. LA having to pay £38 p/h for a SW…..LIST goes on and on!

  6. Karen July 20, 2019 at 2:08 pm #

    Its not just social workers, its also professionals that work with care leavers.

  7. frustrated July 24, 2019 at 9:52 am #

    If you are an intelligent conscientious emphatic professional, you will not be able to stay in Social Work. That is why management are so awful.