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Monro Review (again)

September 15, 2010

Another of the monsters of the Monro Review speaks – but this time on topic and with good sense. Professor Sue White is reported in the Guardian as saying. “People say that there were never halcyon days, but in 20 years I have never seen children’s services under so much pressure created by the system,” She goes on to talk of drastically reducing bureaucracy and giving social workers administrative support so that they can get back to direct work with children and families.

The Hackney social work Units are mentioned as is a Westminster initiative where child and family social workers work alongside teachers and health workers, often in the same premises. I am reminded of the multi-professional teams serving people with mental health problems which fellow social work blogger Fighting Monsters has often written about in very positive terms. Of course child and family social workers should be working with teachers, nursery workers, health visitors and Sure Start staff and where possible from the same premises and sharing the same recording systems. It’s just so obvious – shared responsibility and team work instead of buck passing.

Disturbingly, in the same Guardian article it is mentioned that just 14 of 83 social work training courses had fully met all the requirements in the GCSS appraisal of Training courses. Which sits very oddly with Anthony Douglas’ assertion to the Public Accounts Committee that “Actually, it is, in many ways, good to have some turnover … new practitioners are trained in newer methods and they are actually better, if you can generalise, at working faster on duty, faster throughput, …  when you measure throughput per social worker, that’s what we’ve been able to improve. And for many long-standing practitioners, who’ve worked in a traditional way, they don’t particularly like that; they don’t like that extra degree of pressure”.

The Monro Review is due to publish its initial report this month. Will it favour Sue White’s vision of social workers getting out there and engaging directly with children and families and team working with other professionals while being well supported administratively or will Anthony Douglas’ vision of box ticking, IT literate, very efficient, high productivity workers prevail? Is it to be quality or width?

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