Specialist child protection social workers to be piloted in DfE care review response

Long-awaited DfE children's social care strategy also includes plan for early career framework and for councils to recruit up to 500 social work apprentices, along with consultation on reducing agency staff use

Social worker making notes
Photo posed by model: Valerii Honcharuk/Adobe Stock

The appointment of specialist social workers to lead child protection cases will be piloted while a new framework will be introduced to support practitioners at the start of their careers, the government has said in its response to the care review.

The long-awaited children’s social care implementation strategy, published today by the Department for Education (DfE), also includes plans to support councils recruit up to 500 social work apprentices and consultative proposals on reducing authorities’ reliance on agency staff.

Claire Coutinho

Claire Coutinho (photo: HM Government)

Announcing the strategy, children’s minister Claire Coutinho said: “Children in care deserve the same love and stability as everyone else. Yet we’ve seen from the two tragic murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson that more needs to be done to protect our most vulnerable children.

‘Strong relationships at heart of care system’

“Our wide-ranging reforms will put strong relationships at are the heart of the care system. From supporting our brilliant foster carers, kinship carers and social workers to getting early help to families and improving children’s homes, we want every child to get the support and protection they need.”

The strategy is the DfE’s response to the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel’s inquiry into the murders of Arthur and Star and the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) study of the children’s social care market, all issued last year.

DfE social care strategy: key points

  • Funding: £200m in funding over two years. The care review called for £2.6bn over five years, with £1bn spent over the first two years.
  • Social work training and development: An early career framework will be established,  replacing the ASYE, as recommended by the review. Practitioners will be supported to develop, and be assessed against, the “skills and knowledge needed to support and protect vulnerable children”, and, in years three to five, to develop into “expert practitioners”. This will be tested by a group of early adopter councils with a view to full implementation in 2026. The National Assessment and Accreditation System, scrapped last year, will not be revived.
  • Social work recruitment: The DfE will “explore ways to support the recruitment of up to 500 additional child and family social worker apprentices” to help tackle staff shortages, though it has not provided details on how this will happen.
  • Agency social work: The department has proposed bringing in national rules to reduce the cost and use of agency social workers in children’s services. This would include capping the rates local authorities pay so that agency staff receive the equivalent of permanent workers doing the same role, once benefits have been taken into account.
  • Family help: £45m will be allocated for up to 12 ‘families first for children pathfinder’ areas to trial the care review proposal to introduce multidisciplinary family help services, to provide “non-judgmental”, joined-up support for families affected by issues such as domestic abuse or poor mental health. This will bring together existing targeted early help and child in need services. As part of this, the DfE will consult on removing the requirement for social workers to lead child in need cases.
  • Child protection: Child protection lead practitioners, who will have received “advanced specialist training”, will be appointed to lead safeguarding cases in the pathfinder areas, as called for by the care review. As recommended by the care review, they will co-work such cases with family help teams. In addition, the pathfinders will test the national panel’s proposal to set up multi-agency teams consisting of social workers, police officers and health professionals to carry out child protection work. The DfE will also consult on new multi-agency child protection standards as part of a review of Working Together to Safeguard Children in 2023.
  • Independent reviewing officers and child protection conference chairs: The DfE has rejected the care review’s proposal to abolish the independent reviewing officer role. Instead, it has proposed to review and strengthen it. The strategy did not reference the care review’s separate proposal to abolish the child protection conference chair role.
  • Involving family networks: The 12 pathfinders will test using family group decision-making, such as family group conferences, at an early stage to support parents minimise risks to children. In addition, seven areas will test providing family support network packages providing resources to help families care for children and avoid them going into care.
  • Kinship care: A kinship care strategy will be published in 2023 while £9m will be spent on improving training and support for kinship carers. The government will also explore the case for the care review’s recommendations of a financial allowance and the extension of legal aid for those who become special guardians or responsible for children through child arrangements orders.
  • Foster care: £27m will be spent on a carer recruitment and retention programme over the next two years focused on shortage areas, such as sibling groups, teenagers, unaccompanied children, parent and child placements and children who have suffered complex trauma. The care review called for the recruitment of 9,000 carers over three years. In addition, foster carers will receive an above-inflation rise in minimum allowances to deal with rising costs.
  • Commissioning care placements: The DfE has backed the care review’s proposal to transfer responsibility for the commissioning of care placements from individual councils to regional groupings of authorities, regional care co-operatives (RCCs), which will initially be tested in two pathfinder areas before being rolled out. It has also accepted the CMA’s proposal to commission a national body to provide help for authorities/RCCs in forecasting demand and procurement. It said these measures would address the insufficiency of placements for children in care, improve outcomes and tackle the excess profit-making identified by the CMA among the largest providers.
  • Financial oversight of providers: It will also introduce a financial oversight regime for the largest children’s home providers and independent fostering agencies (IFAs), similar to that for adult social care, to reduce the risks of providers exiting the market suddenly.
  • Relationships for children in care and care leavers: £30m will be spent on family finding, befriending and mentoring programmes for looked-after children and care leavers, to help them find and maintain relationships, as the care review recommended.
  • Support for care leavers: The suggested grant made available to children leaving care will increase from £2,000 to £3,000, while the bursary for those undertaking apprenticeships will rise from £1,000 to £3,000, broadly in line with care review recommendations.
  • National standards and outcomes: The DfE will consult on a children’s social care national framework, as proposed by the review, setting expected outcomes for children and families that should be achieved by all local authorities. The proposed outcomes would be for children and families to stay together and get the support they need, for children to be supported by their family network and to be safe in and out of home and for children in care and care leavers to have stable, loving homes. These will be underpinned by two “enablers”: that the workforce is equipped and effective and leaders drive conditions for effective practice. Ofsted inspections will be aligned to the national framework.

Early career framework to be introduced

The DfE has accepted the care review’s call for the establishment of an early career framework, replacing the assessed and supported year in employment once established. This would likely be in 2026, though the DfE said it would be trialled from this year.

This would provide two years of “consistent, high-quality support and development”, with “rigorous, supportive and fair assessment processes, which are integrated into the
development and training aspects of the programme”.

The care review recommended a five-year framework, with those who completed it gaining the status of expert practitioners.

The DfE said it would “look to develop an expert practitioner level of the ECF for years 3 to 5
post-qualifying”, creating “a cohort of highly trained social workers capable of dealing with the most complex cases and spreading best practice”.

Lead child protection practitioners

As recommended by the review, the DfE said it would pilot the introduction of a lead child protection practitioner in up to 12 areas that will also be trialling the care review’s proposed establishment of ‘family help’ teams to provide early intervention to families in need.

The department will also test the headline recommendation from the national panel’s inquiry into Arthur and Star’s murders, namely the creation of multi-agency expert units to lead child protection cases in each area.

“We want a model of child protection where multi-agency practitioners work as a team on a day-to-day basis, to provide better consistency and robust critical thinking and challenge to each other when making child protection decisions,” it said.

However, it has rejected the care review’s recommendation to abolish the independent reviewing officer role, though it said it would look to review and strengthen the role.

Action on agency social work 

The care review also proposed a number of measures to reduce the “inexcusably high” use of agency social workers.

These included restrictions on who can be hired and stricter adherence to regional agreements, plus funding to help councils set up not-for-profit staff banks that would be their first port of call for hiring temporary staff.

The DfE has set out proposals for national rules that local authorities would have to adhere to in engaging agency staff, in a consultation also published today.

It is proposing:

  • National price caps on what local authorities may pay per hour for locums.
  • A requirement for social workers who graduated in or after April 2024 to have a minimum of five years’ post-qualified experience working within children’s social care and completion of the ASYE to be appointed to an agency post.
  • A ban on agency project teams.
  • A requirement for employers to request and provide references for all agency social worker candidates.
  • That councils do not engage agency workers for a period of three months after they have left a substantive role within the same region (excluding certain exceptions).
  • A requirement for a minimum six-week notice period for agency social workers.
  • The collection and sharing of core agency and pay data, to support better workforce planning and the ability to monitor, enforce and assess the impact of the proposals.

These would be introduced from spring 2024.

It comes against the backdrop of increasingly severe pressures, with the proportion of vacant children’s social work posts in local authorities rising to one in five, and the number filled by agency staff to one in six, as of last June.

ADCS president Steve Crocker

ADCS president Steve Crocker (credit: ADCS)

Councils ‘cannot wait’ for workforce support

Association of Directors of Children’s Services president Steve Crocker said he welcomed them but that the DfE’s proposed timescale for reform was too lengthy.

“It includes a range of sensible proposals but the timeline for implementation is too long, we cannot wait 15 months for change and urge government to progress the changes even more quickly.

“Local authorities are facing real recruitment and retention challenges now, particularly amongst our social workers which, in the short term, is leading to an increasing reliance upon agency staff to help us meet the growing levels of need we are seeing across our communities.

“At the same time, we are seeing increasingly aggressive recruitment tactics being employed by agencies to attract our staff and the costs of buying back their services spiralling.”

The latter charge has been rejected by agency leaders.

In response to the DfE’s proposals to reform agency work, Jonathan Wadsworth, managing director of the agency Charles Hunter Associates, said: “The consultation is proposing a clear attack on  vital hard working agency social workers. It is seemingly an underhand tactic to forcibly make prospective agency workers go permanent. It is essential that all stakeholders remember the critical staffing shortages we face and that this is only going to make things worse.”

Lack of funded plan for social work – BASW

In its response to the DfE’s wider strategy, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) England said it “[did] not reveal a clear and funded plan on how to retain social workers in the children’s care system and ensure their working conditions are fit for their role”.

BASW England added: “The message from social workers is clear: high caseloads and complex cases increasing demand on the system has led to this crisis. The failure to address this sufficiently is concerning and a risk to vulnerable children and families.

“While extra funds for the recruitment of 500 children’s social care apprentices is positive, there seems nothing here to address the wishes of experienced social workers for a national review of their pay, terms, and working conditions to make sure the profession is properly supported.”

Regulator pledges focus on whole profession

Social Work England said it welcomed the DfE’s proposals and that its chief executive, Colum Conway, had been appointed to a “national practice group” that the department had established to oversee aspects of the reforms.

While the proposed reforms to social work would affect statutory practice with children and families, Conway said his priority would be to ensure a focus on the profession as a whole.

“While the focus of the strategy is on work with children and families, with our unique view across the entire social work profession, I am also keen to ensure that the development of statutory guidance can read across into all areas of social work,” he said.

“My role on the group will consider this principle of one social work profession to ensure that the public can have trust and confidence in their social worker at whatever stage of life they might need them.”

In an initial response, the Principal Children and Families Social Worker Network said: “As a principal social worker network, we are looking forward to reading and digesting the detail of the implementation strategy. We fully intend to utilise the collective skill, wisdom and expertise of the network to provide constructive feedback during the consultation period.”

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19 Responses to Specialist child protection social workers to be piloted in DfE care review response

  1. Hilary Searing February 2, 2023 at 3:29 pm #

    I like the idea of a new social work team with responsibility for child protection investigations . One advantage is that it would give social workers a real choice about the style of working they prefer and allow those who feel they are not suited to section 47 investigations to opt out of this work. However, some social workers might enjoy working in this team because it would offer them the opportunity to develop their skills in investigative work and also their involvement with the family would tend to be short-term. This style of working might suit experienced social workers who have the confidence to take on the challenge of using their legal powers in an ethically sound way.

    • Alec Fraher February 3, 2023 at 5:00 pm #

      Yet this, surely, must have some congruence with other protection measures like blostering the IRO ratherthan it’s proposed removal.

      Sure a licencing approach specifc to s47 may help, as happened in adult services under the now defunct ASW training and approval role.

      Imagine the opposite of the removal of the IRO and an increase in the function. A s47 point of entry coverage with formal guardian ad litem provision at the outset..

      Imagine how many Council’s would face class actions for creating the conditions that cause harm..

      The overall direction of travel of this review is, at a gross level, at odds with the subtle and discrete differences being suggested. as improvements. They are, if one agrees with the axioms of Complex Adaptive Systems, Systems Thinking and Systems Dynamics epistemological challenges; the very nature of which are driven by nefarious ideological and commercial interests, wrecking the ontological basis of being a social worker.

      • Martin February 5, 2023 at 11:02 am #

        What is the ontological basis of being a social worker?

        • Alec Fraher February 5, 2023 at 6:58 pm #

          you’re joking, right?

          • Martin February 8, 2023 at 3:22 pm #

            Why would I joke about ontology? I was curious to know what you think the ontology of social work is, hence my question. From your reply, I get the impression you think the answer is obvious (and so I could only be joking when I asked).

            I see in one of your other comments that you have answered more seriously, and for you, the ontology of SW is advocacy. And maybe it is.

            Not everyone agrees of course – indeed, some would say that by looking to define “the” ontology of social work, we miss something important, and that the philosophical underpinnings of social work are necessarily more dynamic, dialogical and interactive than that.

            Anyway….hope you have a good one. (That’s not a joke either.)

          • Alec Fraher February 25, 2023 at 12:02 pm #

            I’ve just seen this Martin. Apologise for being rude too. And, sure there’s a whole host of starting positions. I plumbed for ontology but not at the expense of epistemology nor indeed philosophy. I did so based on the notions of how indeterminacy and incommensurability, and their irreducibility defy the inherent dualism of dialectics and dialogical arguementation. Consider, if you will, that Social Work necessitates, often demanding, ontological violation as a basis for action. Suggesting, as I wrote, that advocacy is a key determination isn’t to suggest there aren’t any others. It is to suggest that this reduction locates social-working in power relations. In other comments, which is a poor way of going about this, the idea, developed by Bojan Radej, of Social Work occupying a Third Space of message inquiry and beyond the orthogonality of Hegel. Zizek’s reliance on Althusserian and Lacan limits the options available. The difficulty of my starting position though rests not with contradiction but transcendence from nihilism. Consider, the statement Nothing, Actually Works and draw from Zizek’s treatment of idea’s western buddhism or secular buddhism as some call it and one gets closer to seeing the results of Thought Errancy or as EP Thompson said The Orrery of Errors. I could go on but not here. Again apologies for being rude. And hope this provides something by way of an apology. btw I’ve been in chat with Bojan Radej for a decade or more about nothingness/emptiness and the sailing of voids. For me the nature of being-in-the-world is itself limited by a reliance on hermeneutics ~ understanding requires a material position of being-under-in the world and rather counterintutively hides the conservatism and authoritarian idea’s of the likes of Schmitt. Helen Kennedy was saying as much in 87.She was silenced. Babette Babich is a rich source of information on the idea of Thought Errancy and Desire and travels a similar path as Zizek. I rather like the, The Middle, as articulated by Bojan Radej. He’s worth checking out if you’ve not done so.

  2. Alison Greenwood February 2, 2023 at 7:57 pm #

    I’ve work in child protection 23 years and I’ve lost count of the number of new initiatives that are going to make great improvements. Deja vu ?

  3. Led by Liars February 3, 2023 at 3:40 pm #

    Shame this children’s minister is unable to differentiate between children in care, and children at risk in their own family homes.

    We’re in good hands.

  4. Lin Newton February 4, 2023 at 9:58 am #

    Totally agree with Alison as in 40 years as a frontline SW in child protection the most important need is always ignored and that is recruiting and retaining much higher numbers of post graduate level qualified workers. Relationships are crucial to effective intervention and by that I mean the following
    Relationship with child
    Relationship with the child’s carers and wider family
    Relationships with the local community
    And of course Relationships between key professionals.
    All the above needs time and energy
    Well staffed teams supported by admin can do the above and also have time to attend training but also share expertise aka Practice Wisdom in the workplace.

  5. Leah February 4, 2023 at 10:38 pm #

    I definitely agree with the focus on early prevention and families first act. There needs to be something done with child protection thinking that taking the child out of the home and locking them up their whole teenage years will be effective. What happens when they turn 18 and have lost connection with the whole outside world? And have been held from all family togetherness. They will feel like aliens,.

  6. Tom J February 6, 2023 at 9:28 am #

    Prior to the commencement of the review we were told that it was ”a once in a generation opportunity” to fix things.

    Yet whilst Rome burns, the government has chosen to grab cups of water.

    You really have to be an optimist to believe that things will be in any way substantially better ten years from now due to these proposed plans.

    • Alec Fraher February 26, 2023 at 12:24 pm #

      Weeds on the Ruin, perhaps. While Kavan Barron MP, then chair of the HofC Health Select Committee wrote the job off as a failure.Margret Hodge MP, then, chair of the PASC retained some hope saying ‘Let a thousand Flowers Bloom’.

      Leadership is, or can be, distributive. Management is a whole different thing and remains largely driven by egoic personality.

      This is though a 20 year old perspective as is a reliance on systemic notions of Safe Uncertainty first championed in family based work and almost ideologically at odds with Protectionist based work.

      Zizek was, perhaps, one of the first to articulate a criticism of postmodernism and cultural symbolism. I say, ‘perhaps’ because the likes of Terry Eagleton, the late and great Stuart Hall, were some who saw the fragmentation long before anyone else. The presenting problems are as much to with the sneaky valorisation of psychoparaceuticality and institutional ‘interpassivity’ as Zizek called it renders the making of zero-sum games and nihilism if not annihilation the only game in town. I wrote about this in ‘Beyond the Steady State’ on 12manage.com. The legacy of a theoretical dependence on Althusserian thought is past it’s manifestations as offering praxis. The inherent dualism between micro-macro is done. The adoption of a middle ground epistemology of ‘Systems Thinking’ once a right-wing adjunct to Thatcherism is now the proposed error in knowledgement within LocHov now amenable, through the likes of Critical Systems Thinking, or Total Systems Intervention to be politically acceptable. This is the theoretical territory and the concepts shaping children’s services. The maps are wrong. The Thought Errancy is simply staggering. Zizek’s work helps but within the dualism of a Hegelialism bound by Hermeneutics. It is theoretically an ever circular dramaturgy. It is, rather bizarrely, a product of the very school of thought giving-voice to the Thatcher-Regan-Gorbachov era. The idea of Market Socialism and the rise of the Post Chicago School Model of Competition.

      We are where we are because 50 years ago we started smoking from the cigarette of the Bolkenstein Directive of 1957. Were now going through the withdrawal from an addiction. It’s all ideological and illusionary.

      Reading Zizek for Social Work is a good idea. Developing Social Work as Mesoscopic Inquiry is better.

      The UK has much to learn from the post soviet Balkans not least because of the increased tension between the desolved nations. The organisation of a TikTok school rebellion is Anarcho-Syndalism at it’s best. That Salman Rushdie and Benjamin Zephaniah are features of a cultural renaissance are transcultural and transgenerational.

      This is a once in a life-time opportunity. Taking it does though require being present and having agency enough to participate. And, with pun intended, that’s why agency v permanent staff, Council v RCCs the general either/or dualism is theoretically an error and massively so.

      We have an inheritance for those crafting LASSA that’s being unpicked by, say, the insertion of the Outsourcing and Deregulation of Contracting Act 1994, which appears on the face of both the Children Act 2004, Working Together Guidance and the Care Act 2014.

      WTF, right? Do something. We’re standing on the shoulders of Giants and there’s loads of us.

  7. Alec Fraher February 26, 2023 at 12:35 am #

    I think that the tragic death of Toni Ann Byfield, a child used as both a shield against suspicion in serious organised criminal behaviour and as an aid to garner and elicit and secure the help of Council run services is sufficient enough to merit this course of action. It’s long over due.

    Imagine, and this is real, that the very services ‘commissioned’ to tackle drug and substance abuse employed a manager known by drug treatment services user’s, in this instance woman who’ve had children removed, to be a class A dealer. Imagine that the Magistrate making their DRR was also their former client, and client of the same manager. Now imagine that that the Director of the DAAT rented a property, to live in, from the dealers supplier as did, for office purpose, CAFCAS. Now imagine that 3 board level executives looking into this had historic involvement in child abuse. Imagine also that the service manager was formerly an internationally wanted heroin dealer.

    Ironically, while I have grave concern about the procedural compatibility and use of procure and contracting processes in children’s services, without the rigour of due diligence it affords this rats nest would have gone on, not unnoticed, but with very little that could, evidentially and to criminal law standards, be done. I lost my case because there’s no requirement, in Information Management Requirements Law, for any record to be held.

    Without tight relations with the Police and police intelligence not only are children like Toni Ann Byfield more likely to get hurt and fatally so the very integrity of children’s services are wholly and irreparably subverted. I was counselled against doing anything. I rejected the advice.

  8. Alec Fraher February 26, 2023 at 9:52 pm #

    For CPD: Liminality and limina is an area usually covered in architecture. It’s about spatiality often covered by Feminist writers like Julia Kristeva who turned Lacanian thought on it’s head, as Laura Doyle does to Husserlian Phenomenology. Anyway, for a philosophy of Liminality and the spatial dimension of child abuse see Babette Babich.

  9. Alec Fraher February 28, 2023 at 5:03 pm #

    Last Two-Penth:

    Earlier Martin (8/9th February) asked about a Philosophical basis in Social Work. In meeting our requirements for reflexivity, I suggest, and in the context of this Review, we’d be grateful for Lyotard and his handling of the meta-narrative, in Differend. Babette Babich, was once asked IS the moon made from Green Cheese, perhaps, her handling of the question poses similarly minded questions of knowing if a child IS being abused. Heidegger’s treatment of ‘being’ is about the ‘Aboutness of IS’. These philosopher treatise inform the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. Being a Child IS a protected and fundamentally so. Don’t let the crappy dualism of the Reviews narratives distress or distract from this. Governments and Ministers come and go. Social Work impacts across the life-span. Be the Differend. Difference not Difficulty is the basis for negotiation about pay and terms and conditions.

    Developing further a ‘Social Work as Mesoscopic Inquiry: A Case Against Methods Management in Children’s Services’ is yet to be written. Do it.

    This Work by Bojan Radej sets out the basis for the case to be made:


  10. Alec Fraher February 28, 2023 at 11:12 pm #

    Really, I will shut-up, soon.

    The works mentioned above are seated, inpart, on reaching an anticipatory consciousness of real possible. That’s the language of the Review. The genesis of which is nested in Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope. A utilitarian approach meets with the transactional reduction of Social Work to it’s necessarily regulatory requirements. This needs looking at and the Review says it will. My concern is that the adjustment will only be transactional too. The evidence shows up as legal illiteracy with primary legislation being driven by adopted-in secondary legislation, like the Outsourcing and Deregulation of Contracting Act 1994.

    Of course tinkering with the machinery gives the appearance of improvement but really? The essence of social-working is that people need people to stick up for them when family can’t or won’t do it, hence advocacy being a core ethic.

    A remedy rests within this. Imagine, and this includes an Ontological Violation, a project led by an anticipated conscious written by a yet to become Dr Kath Drescher. A balanced feminist appraisal of the future Adoption and Fostering Services. I say feminist because misogyny is rife and patriarchy in all its capitalist incarnations fails men and boys too. The incorporation of Julia Kristeva, Judith Butler, Laura Doyle and Babette Babich into such a project would lift Social Work immeasurably and make it relevant, again.

    Just saying Kath.

  11. Alec Fraher March 1, 2023 at 3:59 pm #

    End Note: Reflective Work.

    We’ve all walked through a hall of mirrors. Some of us have dared to Enter the Dragon and some of us have passed through the mirror.

    I have been to Alec-in-Wonderland.

    Once I could boast being Alec Fraher FMICoP, MIHM, AASW.

    Now I am Alec Fraher cptsd, adhd, hfaust.

    The former a long exercise in masking, of being an imposter in my own life. The latter, while heavy going, is authentic. This isn’t either/or it’s both and has always been so.

    That I felt compelled to mask, which includes being accommodated as a teenager, is just wrong. But it’s systemic not personal, right?

    Here’s the rub. Having done direct work with lots of “difficulty’ on balance I have to say that it’s the management and the machiavellian political nature of fraternal ties that’s the most problematic and actually the most scary of all.

    I had no choice but to go native and bottom out the issues I made in the comments above, and that’s only half the story. And only one. There’s plenty of fire-side stories that’ll make you wince.

    Here’s the rub with reflexivity:

    In any assessment of whether a market exists or not it is the actual behaviourally determined and economic imprint that counts, or so one is told. It’s not true. All models of competition, which are socio-legal conditions, have reference to sets of behaviour that distinguish one from the other. Like, say, the Harvard School Model and its use of Structure-Conduct-Performance criteria drawn from a study of 780 organisations, both public and private to cluster what’s called the DNA of the organisation.(see Gary Neilson et al 2008; Or the EU Model of ‘Effective Competition’ currently being used to determine the Northern Ireland Protocol and based, originally, on the European Foundations for Quality Management, (EFQM) and crafted as a response to the US and Harvard School Model. Neither Model however good is though designed for austerity.They are steady state approaches suited to equilibria in much the same way as John Nash first thought and more latterly remodelled by Yanis Vafourcois, the former Greek Finance Minister and like John Nash, bringing genius to the table. What was ignored though is that these models create the conditions for ‘extreme commensurability’ and assume that the principle of transitivity remains constant. They don’t. The failure to recognise that the US ditched the Harvard School Model after the financial meltdown in 2008 and reverted to the more dilberately aggressive Post Chicago School Model of Competitive Rivalary. This is the active and hegemonic model in use today although the EU are playing the long game nurturing trade with South Africa, Africa and Brazil along the same lines. The UK is however locked into the US and their use of the Post Chicago School Model.

    Unsurprisingly, social work when seen in it’s widest context absorbed by competition too. Constantly trying to prove the existence of values knowing the gap between what’s said and what’s done is wideningly so wide it’s not a gap anymore but chasm.

    Sure, ten years of a starvation policy only added of the growing urgency to prove that the profession has at least a societal utilitarian value which is measurable.

    Afterall giving children 6mths in Oxford is betterthan a life-time in the inner city or burntout outer estate, right?

    It’s though the short run disruption that’s counted as a measurement of a successful outcome. The axioms within the Post Chicago School Model limit, through deregulation, the vertical issues of economic hegemony of the state ownership of welfare, the horizontal axis of measured outcomes being created by internally generated computational algorithmic reality that’s divorced from the real physical world. Getting passed the micro-macro schism is though a tough call.

    Post structural and Post Marxist thinkers like, Zizek, make useful contributions to our understanding of this.

    Here’s the choke point of reflection with reflexivity:

    The appointment of people with known criminal pasts, and this could include,say, Benjamin Zephaniah, in social-working has become almost a prerequisite necessity to gain access to people and places now out-of-reach. Indeed, one could say that it’s a pedagogic achievement. It’s far from being new ground either. How far this goes though requires fresh thinking. I grew up in one of those places decade’s ago. Social-work and social-working were an everyday part of life it was ordinary and even though you’d never let-on a welcomed service.

    If, and as I am not sure of, there’s such a thing as an Ethical Market (see the work of the, late, but brilliant Lavinia Weissman on Ecology) then are Children’s Services the place to test it?

    How, if being care experienced isn’t accepted properly and substantively, within existing arrangements is the lure of competitive rivalry to be avoided? It’s, now, systemic, no? Culture wars within Social Work are locked-in. They arise from structural determinations, like which Model of Competition is in use, and the use of such models to exaggerate existing issues of discrimination within the institution of Social Work.

    In Heideggerian terms the is, is also, isn’t. Discuss.

  12. Pauline O'Reggio March 1, 2023 at 11:05 pm #

    This will become another elitist service that does not reflect the service users we support,or those from ethnic minorty groups who work incredibly hard to progress in their chosen profession.

    In my view and experience those employees from minorty groups are still unlikely to be part of this specialist child protection service.What will be different to the services/initiatives currently in place, if it is not inclusive if social workers genuine views and experiences are not listen to and continue to be marginalized and invisible in the workforce.

    Discrimination is more noticeable and continues to take place yet those in positions who can make a difference do nothing. Is this not one of the social work values? If this happens to employees in the workplace then how can an organization support or demonstrate empathy and understanding to its service users?

    I simply ask what will be different if nothing is learned after so ,so many years.I am of the view nothing will change if the current practice continues.To be fair there is some practice which is balanced and inclusive however, it is sad to say this is the minority. My views are based on my experience and observations.

    • Alec Fraher March 2, 2023 at 11:53 am #

      Social Work, IS, a White Middle Class Christian (protestant) Profession.

      And, for sure the profession is ignorantly ignorant of itself and arrogantly so.

      And, for sure, the last 40 years have been about making up the numbers and appearances only.

      Alernatively, Social Work, ISN’T, a White Middle Class etc etc is also true.

      When we hear stuff about ‘cancel culture’ it’s about negating and negation; It’s what Zizek bashes on about and what for the past 100yrs has been a fight between national socialists (fascism), and Councils like the NHS are huge employers with active nationalist factions and international socialism or multiculturalism albeit eurocenteric and EU driven ~ seemingly movements such as BLM offering what the Unity movement didn’t.

      Here’s a rub point:

      We’re ALL being tossed around like bingo balls waiting for the lucky numbers to come up.

      The narratives being set for us ALL are frankly crap.

      On the one-hand it’s simply about ‘the kerching’ of Children’s Services offering a ROI to UKTEITs better than 8%.

      While on the other is about the contribution the central government social work allocation makes to the global income of a Council.

      The shift towards regionalism presents as a new cash cow. The opportunity to do something fresh and clutter free of hostilities is very powerful deception.

      The Independent Foster and Adoption network has demonstrated this to Councils. The setting up of Children’s Trusts is also a kick-in-the-teeth too. The real issues are though about the ridiculously high prevalence both historically and ongoing child exploitation that involves those with duties to identify, monitor, report and act against it and don’t.

      These are the current conditions. There’s been a complete dereliction of responsibilities and accountabilities. For sure there are alternatives, but when it blatantly becomes about the use of market forces as an answer to coverups, those alternatives must be so simple, yet so initially damn difficult, to turn the world upside down. I am thinking Rosa Parks.

      I have been living right in amongst it all and done more social-working of the kind that’s really needed and really passing people off and then making up right within my own community.

      But then I don’t hold any of the White Middle Class aspirations because I’m not middle class; it’s as simple as that. Rosa Parks-It Good and Proper.

      Our society is in transition, and some say transcendence, either way the risks being taken with Children’s safety ie their right to life and a good quality of life can nolonger be assured. Unless we find are our own Rosa Parks and do something so damn different it makes the difference.

      I know Kath Drescher has the same quality. And, metaphorically or alogorically this whole Review is about which bus we’re sitting on too.

      Rosa Parks Saves Social Work. Discuss