The public services union, UNISON, is calling on politicians to pay attention to the views of social workers who have set out their key priorities for improving child protection. In a survey they called for more support and manageable caseloads.
The survey also revealed that social workers saw cuts in funding, bureaucracy, stress and burnout as barriers to real reform. The union’s General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said it was time to listen to staff who were doing the job every day.
Top of the list of reforms social workers would like to see are national standards for support at work, safer working conditions, and manageable caseloads. They also want more training and support for frontline managers, better placements for social work students and support for first year social workers similar to that given to newly qualified teachers.
Staff also supported the measures set out by the Social Work Task Force as being essential to the success of its core reforms. These included workload health checks, better pay and progression to provide a career structure without the need to move into management, remodelling of social work teams and improved IT systems.
Mr Prentis said: “To get child protection right, and avoid another child dying, its time to listen to social workers. They do their jobs every day. They know what stands in the way of making children and vulnerable adults safer.” He warned that cuts to local government budgets would hit social work teams creating the risk of another child protection tragedy.