Child protection ‘should be key driver of asylum response to children’

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By Nicole Weinstein

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 a report on improving the asylum system for children to disabled people’s experience of rising social care charges and the value of podcasts in social work learning, here’s the week in social work:

Child protection should be key driver of asylum response to children, say charities

A young boy walking in a group with a small rucksack on his back, to symbolise asylum seeking

Photo: Adobe stock/ Lydia Geissler

Child protection – not immigration status – should be the key driver of the UK’s response to asylum-seeking children, charities have urged.

Services should work to help children – whether unaccompanied or with families, regardless of their country of origin – integrate, feel safe and rebuild their lives, said the report, A Warm Welcome, published this week by Barnardo’s this week.

However, the report, which had the backing of several other charities, warned that current practice and policy were often failing to keep children safe.

This included placing unaccompanied children in “unsuitable” Home Office accommodation, “leaving them at high risk of trafficking and exploitation”.

At the same time, “unfair age assessment processes” were leading to children being wrongly treated as over 18 and being placed at risk in adult asylum accommodation.

The report said age assessments of unaccompanied children should only be carried out by “skilled social workers, whose practice is trauma-informed and child-centred” to avoid such risks.

It also called for unaccompanied children to be placed in local authority care immediately on arrival and have access to specialist, trauma-informed fostering that would address their emotional, practical, language and cultural needs.

Kinship carers forced to leave their jobs due to lack of support

Happy grandmother hugging her grandson

Photo: Stock

Lack of employment support is forcing most kinship carers to reduce their hours or opt out of the workforce completely, a survey has found.

In a survey of 500 kinship carers, the charity Kinship found 41% had had to leave work and 45% had cut back their hours when they took on the care of a child. The situation was plunging kinship families into poverty and leading to “significant additional costs” to the state in benefits.

More than two-thirds of respondents (68%) said their employers did not offer support to kinship carers while less than a quarter (23%) said they received employment-related help from their local authority.

In a report based on the survey, Forced Out: delivering equality for kinship carers in the workplace, the charity said many kinship carers experienced “stigmatising attitudes and lack of understanding” of their role, exacerbated by the lack of statutory entitlement to paid leave.

It urged more firms to deliver kinship-friendly employment policies and called for better employment advice from councils for kinship carers. The charity also called on the government to provide paid leave and a mandatory financial allwoance for kinship carers.

The Department for Education has pledged to produce a national kinship care strategy before the end of the year.

Disabled people speak out on toll of social care charges

Portrait of sad older man in nursing home

Photo: Pixel-Shot/Adobe Stock

Disabled people have spoken out about the severe financial hardships they are enduring because of rising social care costs, in an article in the Guardian.

Louise*, from north Northamptonshire, who has complex physical needs and mobility issues, told the newspaper: “I’ve never had to pay for my social care but in 2022 I received a letter from my local council asking me to pay around £2,000 for the year. I don’t have an income aside from my benefits, so to pay it I ended up selling things including silver trinkets from my christening. It was so stressful I couldn’t sleep at night.

“I’ve not been sent a charge for this year yet and I’m terrified of how much it will be. I don’t know what I’m going to do, as I can’t pay,” she added.

Debra*, who has a congenital joint condition and receives help with personal care, housework and shopping, said her council had put her weekly charge up from £27.33 to £146.

“I’ll be forced to be total financially dependent on my husband, who only works part-time so he can give me the additional care I need,” she said. “I can’t believe that in the 21st century, disabled people are being treated in this manner. It’s archaic.”

* names have been changed

Visiting rights proposed for care home residents and hospital patients

Older_man_at_care home window

Photo: Milos/Adobe Stock

Care home residents and hospital patients would have the legal right to have visitors, under proposals launched by the government to curb “unfairly denied” visits from loved ones.

Under the proposed legislation, which is out for consultation, the Care Quality Commission would have new powers to ensure that hospitals, mental health units, care homes and hospices allowed family, friends and volunteers to visit “in all circumstances” unless there was a “reasonable explanation”.

Likewise, care homes would be required to allow residents to make visits outside of the home on the same basis.

Current CQC regulations implicitly promote the right to visits – as a way of meeting standards on person-centred care and dignity and respect – but the DHSC would make visiting an explicit standard for providers to comply with.

Must Listen: the value of podcasts for social work learning

Podcast image

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The value of podcasts as learning resources was the focus of the latest edition of the British Association of Social Workers’ Let’s Talk Social Work podcast It was recorded live ahead of BASW’s annual conference in Birmingham last week.

Podcast host Andy McClenaghan invited Patriche Bentick, senior practitioner at Camden council, Joe Hanley, lecturer at the Open University and Dr Sylvia Smith, host of Social Work Matters podcast, to the stage for the edition.

They discussed the role podcasts played in engaging social workers, what they would like done better, who was yet to be reached and what participants had learned from making, studying and taking part in podcasts.

Listen to Talking heads: reflecting on the role of podcasts as learning resourceson BASW’s Acast website.  It is also on other common podcast platforms.

Tweet of the week: goodbye gifts

Child protection social worker Kelly reflected on the sadness of goodbyes in a tweet this week.

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