Social Work Recap is a weekly series where we present key news, events, conversations, tweets and campaigns around social work from the preceding week.
From the Finley Boden case to how Fatima Whitbread went from looked-after child to champion and the children’s services with a history of failure that were rated good, here’s what you might have missed this week in social work:
Finley Boden’s parents convicted of murder
The parents of Finley Boden, who died at 10 months old, just 39 days after he was returned to their care, have been convicted of his murder.
A post-mortem found that Finley, who died in the early hours of Christmas Day, 2020, had 71 bruises, 57 fractures and two burns on his body, caused by multiple, separate assaults. A paediatrician concluded he would have been in “severe and protracted pain” before his death.
Despite his injuries, his parents, Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden, told paramedics that he had been poorly with a cold and high temperature. According to Derbyshire Constabulary, they had also previously been evasive with health practitioners and social workers.
A child safeguarding review is currently underway to examine agencies’ involvement with Finley and his parents.
You can read a full rundown of the case in our article.
Fatima Whitbread’s journey from child in care to Olympian
Former javelin champion Fatima Whitbread has opened up about her childhood in care and the trauma she experienced before she was saved by sport.
Speaking to the Guardian, Whitbread shared her story of being sent to hospital as a baby, after neighbours discovered her malnourished and dehydrated in a London flat.
She spent the next several years in children’s homes, describing a life of deprivation – physical and emotional – to the publication. From the age of 14, she was looked after by her javelin coach, who later adopted her.
Whitbread did not let her past define her. She went on to become an Olympic medalist and break the world javelin record – the first British athlete to set a record in a throwing event.
Today, she is an advocate of children in care, expressing a particular concern about young people leaving the system at 16.
“At 16, these are vulnerable kids. For a lot of [them], history starts repeating itself: they start getting in trouble, or offending, and it costs the state a whole lot more. […] Because once they get out there they’re easily preyed upon.”
BBC: adults assaulted at care home years before abuse uncovered at same provider’s child services
Adults were abused at a Doncaster care home run by a provider in whose services child abuse was uncovered years later, the BBC has revealed.
The incidents, according to the BBC, included physical assaults, residents being found in soiled clothing, peer-on-peer abuse, use of tasers, and neglect, and were detailed in a 2010 Doncaster council report.
Hesley, the care home provider, said improvements were made to address the failings. However, the company was also the subject of a national inquiry into the serious abuse of disabled children in three of its residential special schools in Doncaster from 2018-21.
In a report last year, the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel found a culture of abuse and harm in the settings. This included evidence of physical abuse and violence, neglect, emotional abuse and sexual harm.
It also found evidence that medication was misused and maladministered, an overuse of restraint, and unsafe and inappropriate use of temporary confinement.
The BBC further revealed staff members accused of assault finding work elsewhere after the homes closed, failures to report abusive staff and months-long delays in verifying criminal records checks.
Last week, the panel published a follow-up report with recommendations on improving the safeguarding of disabled children in care. You can read about them in our latest article on the case.
Children’s services with history of failing services rated good
Birmingham’s children’s services have been upgraded to ‘good’ by Ofsted, after being branded ‘inadequate’ from 2009-18.
The progress comes five years after government intervention resulted in Birmingham Children’s Trust taking charge of the then failing services from Birmingham council. When the council’s children’s services were last inspected in 2018, they were rated requires improvement.
Ofsted found further improvement in its latest inspection, with children now “safeguarded through effective ‘front door’ arrangements, thorough child protection assessments and a strong response to safeguarding children at risk of exploitation”.
Other improved areas included manageable caseloads, children and young people being listened to and their physical, emotional and mental health needs being well considered.
However, the inspectorate still found areas for the service to work on, including the effectiveness of the response to domestic abuse, the need for earlier pre-birth assessments and the consistency of written plans.
You can read more about Birmingham’s journey from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’ here.
Scotland: national social care service bill pushed back
The first vote on Scotland’s proposed national care service has been pushed back until after the Holyrood summer recess by new social care minister Maree Todd.
This is the second time the National Care Service (Scotland) Bill, which has been criticised for its lack of detail, has been pushed back. The first debate on the bill had been due to take place in March but, last month, was pushed back to June.
“We wish to use the time ahead of the stage one debate to find compromise and reach consensus with those who have raised concerns during the stage one scrutiny undertaken so far,” wrote Todd, in a letter to the Scottish Parliament committee studying the bill.
One of the changes under the bill would see adult social care and, potentially, children’s services transferred from local authorities to regional care boards, which would be responsible to ministers.
It is not yet clear when the Scottish Government now intends to hold the first vote.
Must watch: what does social work mean to practitioners?
To mark our tenth anniversary year as a charity, we spoke to our social workers about what social work means to them, and their experiences of making a difference in the lives of the children and families they work with. Their stories are authentic and inspiring. pic.twitter.com/NaTb6sUemk
— Frontline | Social work charity (@FrontlineSW) April 19, 2023
For its tenth anniversary, Frontline has put together an inspiring video of social workers describing what the profession and helping children and families have meant to them.
“The reason I’m still here is because I love my job,” said one social worker.
“There’s nothing I can imagine myself doing that is not social work based or social work related.”
Tweet of the week: Eid Mubarak!
#EidMubarak to my friends and colleagues celebrating #EidAlFitr today and tomorrow
These beautiful cards were made with love by @RaisingExp and have gone to people with learning disabilities and their families who celebrate with you, bringing colour and happiness to their lives pic.twitter.com/4bWB9VrZHV
— Elaine James (@ElaineLJames) April 21, 2023