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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.

December 2002

Introduction

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.

Response

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.

Staff Training

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.

 

For Further Information Please Contact:

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
UNISONScotland
UNISON House
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX

Tel 0141-332 0006 Fax 0141 342 2835

e-mail matt.smith@unison.co.uk

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