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A bleak future for Social Work?

July 22, 2011

Perhaps this is just me, coming off the back of a long and stressful week in work, but from where I am standing the future for social workers looks bleak, a unhappy combination of several factors.

Let’s start with the government’s proposals for mandatory reporting, as mentioned in a previous post this is going to massively increase the number of referrals into child protection services, massively increasing the work load on duty teams and social work teams. Add to this the role out of the new standardized business processes. These things are big and will get a post (probably several) all to themselves in the near future. At this point all you need to know is that these things will further increase pressure on frontline staff, imposing artificial deadlines, increased paperwork, and for the present moment, will increase the pressure on an IT system that is about to collapse as it is. So basically more work to be done in a more dysfunctional system.

Add to this the continuing atmosphere of austerity, and the government’s pledge not to increase income tax, but not to cut social welfare in the coming budget. So where exactly are we going to get the 3bn Euro in cuts that is needed. Services that we use regularly will be decimated, the likes of YAP or Extern that provide close one to one support for children, the likes of St Claire’s or St. Louise’s which provide support for children who have sexually abused, and many others.

So, we will be asked to do more, a lot lot more, and to do it with less.

How does that sound for protecting children and families?

However, there are some occasional rays of light that stop me throwing in the towel completely. The rumblings from Gordon Jeyes and the office of the National Director for CHildren and Family Services at this stage seem to be positive, but have yet to be proven. He does have a positive record in England and Scotland, so we will have to wait and see. The pilot of the Differntial Response Model in some parts of the country also hints at a better way of working. This too however is yet to be proven, and is just a pilot at this point.

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