Sunday, February 28News For London

Children’s services require more social workers

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The lack of social workers may put children at risk. Photo Credit: Yiwen Li

High-calibre graduates in children’s services are needed. According to the government, local authorities have failed to make a good performance in helping and protecting children.

As part of its reform, the government expects to attract more talented people and improve the performance of social services, the Prime Minister said. More than £100 million are to be spent for social work.

Meanwhile, poorly performed authorities will be replaced by high-performing ones, alongside help from teams of experts and charities.

David Cameron described the reforms as “one of the big landmark reforms of this Parliament” and said: “together we will make sure that not a single child is left behind”.

The poor performance by local authorities has been pointed out by Ofsted – the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. They released a report in November claiming a number of local authorities are “requiring improvement or inadequate” in providing children’s services.

Frequent changes in social workers are one of the main problems Ofsted found. Not spending adequate time with children, social workers failed to build a strong relationship with them. This has led to the undesirable engagement between them.

Silke Fernandes, 36, said she has not had many experiences with social workers in Harrow and has not received much help from them either.

As a mother of three, she gives the welfare of her children top priority. “It would be good if more social workers are available”, she said.

11 per cent of social worker posts are unfilled in 2014, exposed by a Freedom of Information request made by the Press Association.

However, the problem is not only the lack of enough social workers, but also their levels of professionalism matter.

A baby died as a result of a drowning accident in May 2014, reported Sunderland Safeguarding Children Board (SSCB). A number of incidents of death and injuries of babies under one year old have occurred in Sunderland in recent years. The better children’s services would help to prevent any similar accidents happening again, said by SSCB.

According to the paper by Department for Education, between 2012 and 2013, only 600,000 children were receiving helps from local authorities. The paper claimed the quality of social workers has a direct relation with whether children can be well protected and whether children’s interests be best guaranteed.

The government will expand the Step Up to Social Work scheme against the backdrop of increasing reports of child abuse cases. The scheme was launched by the government in 2014, aiming to train and supply more qualified social workers.

However, some people do not think local authorities should take the full responsibility for the serious incidents involving children.

“The policy is a good thing”, Lily Lee, 35, mother of two sons, said, “but parents, local communities and social services should share the responsibility”. It is the duty of parents to take good care of their children and to protect them from harm, she said.

“We, the state, are their parents; and we are failing them,” David Cameron said. Harder actions will be taken by the government to ensure children to be well protected. Poorly performed authorities inspected by Ofsted would be replaced by qualified ones, if they failed to make some improvements within 6 months.