Throughcare and Aftercare of Looked After Children in Scotland
UNISON Scotland's Response to the Report from the
Working Group on the Throughcare and Aftercare of Looked After
Children in Scotland.
UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing
150,000 members working in the public sector. We are the largest
trade union in local government, with over 98,000 members working
in Scottish Local Government. UNISON Scotland represents workers
from social work and care services throughout Scotland, with members
employed as social workers, home care workers, residential care
workers, welfare rights workers, and others administrating and
supporting the social work and care teams.
We welcome the opportunity to comment on the Report
from the Working Group on the Throughcare and Aftercare of Looked
After Children in Scotland. Clearly the role of staff in delivering
services to Looked After Children is crucial, and UNISON is anxious
to represent the views of our members in social care services,
particularly given the current problems in recruitment, retention,
job status and pay, along with the increasing pressures facing
social care workers in Scotland.
This paper constitutes UNISON Scotland's response
to the Report on the Working Group on the Throughcare and Aftercare
of Looked After Children in Scotland.
Composition of the Working Group
UNISON Scotland is disappointed that there is no
trade union representation on the Working Group. We note that
there are three representatives from the Association of Directors
of Social Work but no representatives from social workers or from
the trade unions representing social care workers, or from the
wider STUC movement.
Quality Service Provision
UNISON is committed to the highest quality of service
provision. We recognise that this is particularly important when
dealing with vulnerable young people, and we believe that high
standards and working models must be established between service
providers, trade unions and young people to ensure that standards
are achieved. However, we are concerned at the references to "performance
measures" in the Report. We believe the emphasis should be
on quality services, and in order to achieve this local authorities
need to be properly staffed and resourced, and work in partnership
with trade unions, young people and other interested groups to
develop appropriate systems and solutions.
Principles of the Report
UNISON Scotland agrees with the main thrust of the
Working Group's report. We support the proposition that local
authorities should have data sharing protocols, and maintain accurate
information on the number of looked after young people leaving
care over school age in their area. We believe that local authorities
should work with Trade Unions to establish these protocols and
appropriate procedures to ensure accurate information is maintained
and shared between workers and authorities as necessary.
We support the establishment of throughcare and
aftercare plans for each young person leaving care. Clearly staff
have to be trained in devising, developing and operating throughcare
and aftercare plans, and we recommend that support and training
for staff involved is a priority.
Key Workers / Advisers
UNISON Scotland agrees that there should be nominated
key workers / Advisers for all looked after young people leaving
care. However we believe that key workers should be fully involved
in devising service provision and should be backed up with adequate
resources and support. As noted above there are currently real
problems in recruitment and retention particularly in social work
departments. UNISON believes that it is only by addressing low
morale, poor pay and investing in training and development, that
key workers and advisers will be able to deliver high quality
throughcare and aftercare services to young people.
We believe that continuity of worker is important
in this area of social care so as vulnerable young people can
build up a relationship with their key worker. This underlines
the need to ensure social care staff are valued and supported,
and receive decent pay and training. Continuity of staff will
only be achieved where employees are contented and supported in
their roles, so as staff turnover and illness can be minimised.
UNISON welcomes the openness, and transparency proposed
in the structures for throughcare and aftercare. In order for
these to operate successfully we have to achieve genuine team
working, developing partnerships involving trade unions, and providing
support for key workers, social workers, advisers etc.
Role of Local Authorities
We agree that responsibility for financial support
for the young person should fall to the authority that last looked
after them, however we do believe that immediate support should
be available from the local authority where the young person is
living. Local authorities, perhaps under the auspices of COSLA
should work together to address issues arising from the movement
of young people between authorities.
We welcome the Report's acknowledgement that there
will be considerable training requirements for local authority
staff in the run up to implementation. The proposals to prepare
training materials to allow local authority training departments
to prepare key staff for changes is a positive step. UNISON believes
resources, personnel and time for training is essential, as staff
need training and development in order to do implement the Report's
requirements effectively and efficiently.