Date: Friday 27 March
Resource lesson needs to be learned from child protection inspections
The social work inspection system is failing to address the chronic
shortage of resources in child protection services, UNISON, the
union representing the vast majority of Scotland's social services
staff, will tell a Child Protection Conference in Edinburgh today
"While it is right that high standards are expected in child
protection, they cannot be achieved without the tools to do the
job", said John Stevenson, a member of UNISON Scotland's Social
Work Issues Group who will be a panel member in one of the conference
In the wake of the 'Baby P' tragedy and inspection reports in
Scotland, the Holyrood conference, The future of child protection
in Scotland - the role of social services will discuss the 'systemic'
changes needed throughout Scotland's children's services.
"It is right that we look at systems. It is right that we inspect
and improve practice to make children safer. But it misses the
point totally if we do not address the root problem of too few
resources to match too many children at risk", said Mr Stevenson.
"You only have to divide the number of children assessed as being
in need with the number of social workers available across Scotland
to see where the problem lies. Our members want to work to high
standards. They want to be accountable and most of all they want
to protect children. But they tell us that too often they are
being asked to do this with one hand tied behind their back".
"Inspections rightly point to practice and leadership issues
but they never explicitly address resources. To ignore the fact
that there are too few people to achieve the standards we all
want just covers up the problem", he added.
A UNISON UK-wide survey of social work staff, published in January
2009, identified reduced resources, staff vacancies, increased
caseloads, inadequate supervision, remote leadership, lack of
focus on the rights of the child, agencies passing the buck to
social work and excessive bureaucracy with a lack of admin support
as issues making things worse than they were six years ago.
Notes for Editors: 1) the Holyrood Conference takes place
in The Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh. 2) The UNISON survey
is announced on http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/news/2009/janfeb/2601.htm
, and available on http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/B4416.pdf
For Further Information Please Contact: John Stevenson
(UNISON Social Work Issues Group) 07876 795018 (m) Chris Bartter
(Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)