COMMONS

Children's social care workforce inquiry launched

17 July 2019

The Education Committee launches inquiry which aims to look at the children's social care workforce, examining what is needed from social work, and by social workers, to ensure that children and their families are given the best possible help, support, and protection.

The Committee will explore issues around the capacity of social workers to intervene early to provide support and how effectively social workers can access professional development and support. The inquiry will also look at how initiatives and reforms to social work training have impacted on the workforce and how far social workers are supported to uphold their responsibilities under relevant legislation.

Chair's comments

Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said:

"Children, young people and their families receive vital support from social workers. Yet children and their families in receipt of social work support are often those who have the worst outcomes. For example, 14% of looked after children get five good GCSEs, 39% of care leavers are NEET [not in education, employment or training], and one in four women who had a child removed through the family courts is likely to go back to court to have another child removed.

Reports suggest that children are under increasing pressures as they grow up, facing  up to a rise in mental health problems, a rise in knife crime and serious violence, and experiencing a range of challenges in areas such as social media use. We want to explore what social work looks like in 2019 and examine the skills and support that social workers need to keep children and young people safe from harm and to help them grow up to thrive as adults.

This inquiry will build on the Committee's previous work on fostering, alternative provision and special educational needs, and continue to make the case for greater support for young people as they grow up. We want all children to have the very best start in life, and social workers play vital roles in keeping families together, children and young people safe and providing much needed support."

The inquiry is likely to pick up on concerns about the impact of time-pressures on social care work, with increasing reports of time not being available to social workers to properly do their work. There is also likely to be a focus on issues such as the causes and impact of high turnover of staff in some social care departments across the country.

Terms of reference

The Committee is inviting written submissions addressing the following questions:

  • What is needed from social work, and by social workers in 2019
  • The capacity and ability of social workers to:
    o Intervene early to help, support and protect children and their families
    o Uphold their responsibilities under relevant legislation
    o Access appropriate and meaningful professional development and support; and
    o Work with other professionals who play a role in the care of children within the education and health systems
  • How initiatives and reforms to social work training have impacted on the social work workforce.

The deadline for written evidence submissions is Friday 30 August.

If you are an organisation or an academic, please address the terms of reference in your response. We would be particularly interested in organisations who work with service users feeding their views into their responses.

If you are an individual who has experience of social care, please download and answer our questions specifically for those with lived experience (DOCX DOCX 35 KB).

In line with the general practice of select committees, the Education Committee resolved on 12 September 2017 to not investigate individual cases. Please do not submit evidence in order to make safeguarding referrals, complaints or allegations. If you have immediate safeguarding concerns about a child, you should contact the Police on 999 or the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.

If you would like your submission (or part of it) to be kept confidential and not published, please make this clear. We may anonymise or redact some of your submission if it is published.

Further information

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