Wednesday, June 09, 2010

child protection

Two school colleagues (Karin, who deals with child protection issues at school, and Andy) recommended that I watch Channel 4’s “Dispatches” programme entitled “undercover social worker”. From my own fairly limited experiences of dealing with CP issues and social services departments, I knew I’d find it depressing.
John Coffey, who had been a family support worker up until six years ago, went into Surrey County Council’s Children Services Department as an undercover reporter. He worked as a family support worker but, even though he wasn’t a qualified social worker, he was thrown into critical, child protection situations which legally need to be handled by suitably qualified staff (and with absolutely no induction training). Ridiculous work loads, lack of resources, red tape and lack of suitably qualified staff.
Very depressing.
It made me feel really sorry for the people working in the department – most of them appeared to be committed, dedicated individuals who were just trying to keep their heads above water.
“The RSPCA remove animals in danger, but it’s more difficult for us to remove children”.
“I feel like a first aid kit and I’m being asked to do brain surgery”.
“I’m not achieving anything… it’s crazy, absolutely crazy”.
“We’re led to believe that there’s a net to catch these kids, but there isn’t”.
“Instead you make a million calls and you don’t know what you’re doing anyway;
I think I care too much and I don’t think you’re meant to care”.

From my own experience, I used to think that a referral to Social Services was going to provide a solution…. but, all too often, this hasn’t proved to be the case. Where one feels that there are real child protection issues involved, matters frequently appear to be fudged or fended off.
It seems to me that such situations are only going to worsen over the coming years (with more and more dysfunctional families?) and that, if this service is going to be run in an adequate way, then it’ll have to be paid for. In these times of massive financial cuts, it just isn’t going to happen is it!
A truly frightening prospect.
PS: I suggest you check out the "Dispatches" link and read some of the comments from viewers.

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