Supporting practitioners across agencies is key for the new political era

In times of increasing financial pressure, we must be confident that everything we do is worth doing.

Professor Eileen Munro highlights that there are consequences for families who are drawn unnecessarily into the net for a statutory intervention, ‘for these families, the experience ranges from unpleasant to highly traumatic, sometimes leaving them with a fear of asking for help in the future.…It is important to remember that the search for accuracy comes with a human cost that is borne by a child and parent (Munro 2nd Report).

Lessons learned from the MASH-style of working demonstrates intervention and response without delay.  It also demonstrates that professionals, on occasion, do not have to intervene unnecessarily in family life.

The connectivity to Early Help and the coordination of a partnership wide Early Offer of Help from a MASH model have already demonstrated many benefits and in my opinion from working daily in this field, the MASH and connected business areas have strengthened collaboration and information sharing. In addition:

  • Safeguarding is enhanced as a result of better communication in this environment.
  • This environment ensures that the safeguarding partnership in local areas has a central access point delivering a wide range of quality content within a clear and structured framework.
  • The partnership arrangements are strengthened as a result of access too a wide range of skills and expertise enhancing practice and ensuring better decision making for children and their families.

We are at an infection point in technology, capability and demand and it is important that Local Authorities ensure that they push forward the communication in their safeguarding community with the aim to gain longstanding sustainability, moving towards a “whole approach” and to uplift practice locally.

Local Authorities in addition should establish and ensure that any professional with a concern about a child have the opportunity to speak to a qualified social worker. Supporting practitioners across agencies in making vital decisions should be a key feature in any approach.

We need a reliable and consistent, excellent social work profession that focuses on the front line, attracts the very highest calibre of individuals, and is confident in its expertise and achievements.  In other words, a profession that provides clear career pathways, allowing the best social workers to move up to senior leadership roles while retaining their focus on front-line practice.

Isabelle Trowler, chief social worker, recently reported: “These are challenging times to be a social worker, much is expected and the focus on effectiveness is rightly sharp. There is life-saving, life enhancing social work going on all the time in the most difficult of circumstances.”

She affirmed just how skilled and wise we expect our social workers to be to meet these challenges. It also clarifies what others should expect of us.

Isabelle continued: “It should give us, our employers and the children and families with whom we work confidence in us as professionals, in our practice, the risks we manage and the decisions we make. It will bring challenges but, with confidence and leadership, the profession will continue to grow and develop.”

Child and family social work is complex; but so is partnership working and ensuring good end results for those that we work with.  The dynamics of efficiently operating a service organisation are both varied and fluid. They include the unique background and approach of each individual service representative and the needs and desires of each individual service user.

There is the chance of a step change in how we provide sustainable, high-quality support to the most vulnerable children and families and with that change can come both greater respect and a central role in meeting some of the most critical challenges facing public services.

Social workers and their partners offers society a lot. The work we do needs to be fully recognised and fully respected. We need to work together to build on this, make it part of our positive contribution to public service and remain true to our profession without any questioning of our devotion.

We need to ensure that we deliver quality services that reflect the desired outcomes for all.