Engagement work and knowledge events: the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care

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As a membership organisation, our priority is to make sure that our contribution to the Review reflects the wide range multi-disciplinary perspectives and experiences that our members bring.

To make sure your perspectives, expertise and insights are heard we are working and engaging across a range of forums:

  • On 20 May, Dr John Simmonds, our Director of Policy, Development and Research, welcomed Josh MacAllister to the Kinship Care Alliance. This was an opportunity for Josh to listen and speak to the Alliance about the importance of understanding and valuing the role of kinship care.
  • On 17 May the Review published a workforce engagement plan. We will make sure your experiences and suggestions are fed into this, but we would also encourage you to engage directly with the Review.

Knowledge events

The Association of Professors of Social Work is holding a series of Children’s Social Work and Social Care Knowledge and Evidence Events. These open events are designed to help inform the children's social work and social care sector about the current knowledge of the field, and contribute to the Department for Education’s Independent Review of Children’s Social Care.

The first event took place on 18 May with a focus on major studies and reviews of children’s social care, social work and child protection. View the slides and watch the event again here.

The event was facilitated by Professor Ray Jones and Professor Louise Brow with presentations by Eileen Munro (London School of Economics), Marian Brandon (University of East Anglia) and Nicky Stanley (University of Central Lancashire).

Key messages and reflections

Professor Eileen Munro reflected on her 2011 review and the importance of a systems analysis. This is an analysis that looks at the causal links and the interactions and feedback loops between parts of the system – not the structure of the system itself. She argued that changing the structure while leaving the dynamics the same will not lead to change in practice. She also noted that in the last 10 years:

  • Local authorities has faced 40% funding cuts and increased referrals
  • Some children’s services have made whole system change with ‘outstanding’ (Ofsted judgment) results
  • Too few had done so
  • Current review should explore why so few have changed and how to spread the confidence and expertise to reform

Professor Marian Brandon highlighted that where children die or are seriously harmed through abuse there is a high level of complexity and individual differences between each case –meaning children cannot always be protected. She argued that the boundaries between services and levels of need and harm should be fluid and responsive as intended by the Children Act 1989:

  • Children and families with known vulnerabilities may need services long term.
  • Trusting relationships with families are the best route to seeing when things are going badly wrong.
  • Trusting professional relationships within and across agencies make it easier to protect children, support families and share information safely.

Professor Nicky Stanley discussed the evidence in relation to outsourcing in children’s social care. She concluded that:

  • This model does not make for continuity of relationships or organisation.
  • Evaluations of the Social Work Practice initiatives found them to be fragile and unsustainable.
  • Local authorities were better placed to offer continuity.

Professor Ray Jones concluded the event and noted the key messages emerging from the presentations:

  • Continuity and stability
  • Dangers of fragmentation
  • Confidence to work with uncertainty
  • Relationships and resources
  • Capacity, cash and time

The next open event is Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Children’s Social Care and Social Work on Monday 24 May 12:00 -13:00 which will be facilitated by Professor Gillian Ruch and Dr Tam Cane. Presenters Professor Claudia Bernard, Professor Rick Hood, Professor Anna Gupta and Professor Brid Featherstone will discuss issues relating to inequalities in child care social work and social care associated with race, poverty and identity. Free to attend. Register here