The government in England is proposing a radical change in the arrangements for coordinating the different agencies and professional groups involved in child protection. A detailed report from an independent social work academic, Professor Eileen Munro (large file), argued that too much regulation and too many procedures are preventing social workers and other professionals from providing creative support to families. The government in England has accepted this criticism and is proposing a major reduction in guidance and regulation, leaving more to local decisions and professional judgement.
This debate is echoed around the world. Many social workers have argued that rigid procedures intended to minimise risk are in practice resulting in uncreative and unhelpful services for people in difficulty. Many social work practitioners have criticised the tide of managerialism which has swept over the world in the past 20 years. This approach to organisations places a high value on collecting data as evidence of effectiveness. Many say that managers have become more interested in what can be measured rather than what is important and effective.
In an article in the UK newspaper The Guardian, former IFSW President and child protection specialist David N Jones argues that it is right to free up social work practice from excessive regulation but that it is also essential to have a firm framework of rules about the way organisations work together if social workers and other professionals are to feel free and safe to be creative in their work with children and families.
The Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development, being promoted by IFSW and our global partners, recognises the need for an effective and ethical environment for social work practice. It also recognises the key role for social work in advocating for the protection of children and others who are at risk of violence and abuse.
Read the article here.
Read a commentary about the proposed changes here.
IFSW policy on ‘Effective and ethical working environments for social work: the responsibilities of employers of social workers’ can be read here.
The current guidance in England on managing child protection cases can be found here (large file).