Social Work Practice with Children and Families

Books

Carolyn Spray & Beverley Jowett

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Dedication

    The book forms part of the SAGE Social Work in Action Series, edited by Steven M. Shardlow.

    Copyright

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    About the Authors

    Carolyn Spray is a service manager with responsibility for Service Improvement in Sheffield City Council's Children, Young People and Families Service. Improving the quality of children's social care in Sheffield is at the heart of her role and she also leads on recruitment, retention and the continuous professional development of social workers.

    Carolyn has many years experience of social work practice and of managing operational services at different levels. Most of this is within local authority children's services. Carolyn is also an adoptive parent and has experience of being a service user of post-adoption support services. This has informed her perspective of how multi-agency support for children and their family should work in practice.

    Beverley Jowett is a University Teacher in the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield. She teaches on the qualifying and post qualifying social work courses and is course leader for the MA in Professional Practice. Her teaching interests include Safeguarding Children, and law and policy relating to children and families.

    Prior to moving to the University of Sheffield in 2008, Beverley had over 20 years experience as a local authority social worker, the majority of this being in children and families services. She has worked in a range of posts which have involved duty and access work to longer term involvement with children of all ages. Her most recent social work post was based in Sheffield's maternity hospital, undertaking pre-birth assessments.

    Preface

    This book is about what enables good and effective practice in local authority field social work delivered to children, young people and their families. Field social work provides an assessment and care planning service to Children in Need and their families. This includes child protection services for children at risk of harm and accommodation for children who cannot live with their own family or kinship network.

    Our aim is to appeal to a range of people with an interest in social work with children/young people and their families. Student and newly qualified social workers will find that it provides a helpful introduction to local authority social work as it offers an overview of social work as it exists today, as well as discussion of what enables effective practice. It will also, however, appeal to experienced practitioners who want to explore action research or create the space for reflective practice as part of their continuous professional development. Managers will be interested in what the organisation can do to support evidence-informed practice. Other professionals involved in supporting children and young people will also find this book useful as it describes what social work is and what social workers do in a local authority setting.

    This book is about social workers effecting change so that children can continue to live successfully with their families and within their communities. Key issues involved in the practice of social work, are reinforced through the use of learning points at the beginning of each chapter. Three detailed case studies are employed to assist the reader understand the process of assessment, planning, intervention and review (APIR) as applied by local authority children's field social work services. They describe how social workers assess and support Children in Need, children in need of protection and children who need to be looked after in public care. The case studies also consider what happens to these children and their families at different points of the APIR process, as change is effected. They are woven into Chapters 36 as case study exercises and can be found in their entirety after Chapter 7 towards the end of the book. Each chapter concludes with a list of recommended further reading to assist the reader to easily explore any area of particular interest.

    Finally, two glossaries have been included: one that details the legislation that is relevant to working with children and their families and the other that explains acronyms and defines terminology often used in the world of children's social care. When taken all together, the reader will find that this book comprehensively describes and discusses both the context for and the reality of effective social work practice with children and their families.

    Acknowledgements

    The authors wish to express their appreciation to Vicki Bennetts and Ruth Mason for their support and contribution to the development of this book.

  • Glossary of Legislation Concerned with Safeguarding Children

    Children Act 1989

    This was designed to improve the balance between the rights and responsibilities of the state and parents and between the need to protect children and the need to enable parents to challenge state intervention in the upbringing of their children. It encouraged working in partnership with parents and providing them with support at an early stage. This would help keep the use of care proceedings to a minimum. The Act also emphasises that the welfare of the child is paramount and that their views should be taken into account when formulating plans. Key provisions are as follows:

    Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 provides the following definition of a Child In Need:

    A child is taken to be in need if:

    The child is unlikely to achieve or maintain or to have an opportunity of achieving or maintaining a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for him of services by a local authority

    The child's health or development is likely to be significantly impaired or further impaired without the provision for him of such services; or

    The child is disabled

    In s17(11) health is further defined as encompassing both physical and mental health, and development as encompassing physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development. A child is defined as disabled where s/he is blind, deaf, dumb or suffers from a mental disorder or is substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital deformity or such other disability as may be described.

    (It should be noted, however, that this is an outdated medical definition and that the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) has subsequently defined a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. This definition needs to be considered in the context of the current social model of disability.)

    Section 31(92)(a) introduced the criterion that had to be satisfied to warrant state intervention: ‘that the child concerned is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm’. Harm is defined as ‘ill treatment or the impairment of health or development’ (s31(9)) and the judgement as to whether harm is significant is informed by comparing the child's health and development with that which could be reasonably expected of a similar child (s31(10)).

    Section 47(1) laid a specific duty on the local authority where they

    Have reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives, or is found in their area, is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm, the authority should make, or cause to be made such enquiries as they consider necessary to enable them to decide whether they should take any action to safeguard or promote the child's welfare.

    Section 47(3) specified that

    The enquiries shall, in particular, be directed towards establishing whether the authority should make any application to the court, or exercise any of their powers under the Act, with respect to the child.

    Sex Offenders Act 1997

    This requires sex offenders convicted or cautioned on or after 1 September 1997 to notify the police of their names and addresses and of any subsequent changes.

    Crime and Disorder Act 1998

    This reformed juvenile justice by establishing the Youth Justice Board and multi-agency Youth Offending Teams, introducing new measures to help prevent youth crime, e.g. Child Safety Orders as well as new options for dealing with young offenders, e.g. reprimands and final warnings and reparation orders. It also sought to force parents to exert their parental responsibility through Parenting Orders.

    Protection of Children Act 1999

    This aimed to prevent paedophiles from working with children. It requires childcare organisations in England and Wales to inform the Department of Health about anyone known to them who is suspected of harming children or putting them at risk. It made it mandatory for employers to check this list (administered by the Criminal Records Bureau) when employing someone in a post involving the care of children, and also made it an offence to employ anyone on this list.

    Care Standards Act 2000

    Strongly influenced by the Waterhouse Report Lost in Care (2000), this reformed the regulatory system for care services in England and Wales. Standards were established for the arrangements for looking after children away from their home in a range of settings, including residential care, fostering and adoptive placements, childminding and day care, boarding schools and further education colleges that accommodate children. The responsibility for inspection was given to the new Care Standards Commission with the exception of childminding and day care, which was given to Ofsted, the schools inspection service. (All inspection responsibilities with regard to children's social services are now located with Ofsted.) This Act also provides the legislative base for the General Social Care Council established in 2001.

    Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000

    This defined eligibility for care leaving services and strengthened the provision to be made available in relation to: accommodation, education, training and employment for young people requiring support leaving the public care system. It also obliged local authorities to appoint a personal adviser for each young person who would draw up an appropriate Pathway Plan that should ensure appropriate support for the young person to embark upon adult life.

    Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000

    This imposed a statutory duty on the police and the probation service to work together to protect the public from sexual and violent offenders through Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPAs). This created formal arrangements by which the risks posed by sexual and violent offenders on their release from prison could be assessed and managed.

    Adoption and Children Act 2002

    This followed on from the Prime Minister's Review of Adoption 2000. It replaced the Adoption Act 1976 and brought adoption law in line with both the Children Act 1989 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Article 21 of the latter requires party States to ‘recognise and/or permit the system of adoption to ensure that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration’. It aimed to maximise the use of adoption as a means of achieving permanence for a wide range of children and to increase the pool of available adopters. Its new provisions include a legal obligation upon local authorities to provide adoption support services, new orders relating to special guardianship and placements and advocacy rights for looked after children. This also amended the Children Act 1989 by including a provision that made clear that the harm a child may be at risk of suffering includes ‘any impairment of the child's health or development as a result of witnessing the ill-treatment of another person, such as domestic violence’. Ill-treatment is broader than physical violence and includes sexual abuse and forms of ill-treatment which are not physical, such as seeing a parent being harassed or intimidated by another person.

    Education Act 2002

    This included provision (s75) requiring school governing bodies, local education authorities and further education institutions to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

    Sexual Offences Act 2003

    This was introduced to update the legislation relating to offences against children. It includes the offences of grooming, abuse of position of trust and trafficking and covers offences committed by British citizens whilst abroad. It also updated the Sex Offenders Act 1997 to strengthen the monitoring of offenders on the sex offenders register.

    Children Act 2004

    This aimed to progress the Every Child Matters five outcomes framework and introduced the following duties and responsibilities:

    • A duty on local authorities to make arrangements to promote cooperation between agencies in order to improve children's well-being, supported by a new power to pool resources to support the new arrangements
    • A duty for the key agencies that work with children to put into place arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people
    • The replacement of non-statutory Area Child Protection Committees with statutory Local Safeguarding Children Boards
    • A duty on local authorities to put into place a lead member and director of children services responsible for, as a minimum, children's social care services and local education authority (LEA) services so creating Children's Services Authorities
    • The appointment of a new Children's Commissioner for England
    • A duty on local authorities to draw up, with relevant partner agencies, a single Children and Young People's Plan to replace a range of statutory planning previously required
    • The establishment of a National Index containing basic information about all children and young people to enable practitioners to identify who else is involved with the child and whether any concerns have been recorded
    • The establishment of an integrated inspection framework for children's services leading to the Care Standards Commission with Ofsted then assuming responsibility for the inspection of all social care services for children, both fieldwork and provider
    • Provisions relating to private fostering, fostering allowances and education support for looked after children
    Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004

    This closed a legal loophole by creating a new offence of causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult. The offence established a new criminal responsibility for members of a household where they know that a child or vulnerable adult is at significant risk of serious harm.

    Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005

    This set up the framework for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre to be created. It also included provisions for improving the vetting system to stop adults who pose a risk from working with children (s163).

    Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

    The 2004 Bichard Inquiry looked into vetting procedures following the murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells in Soham. It recommended the establishment of a new centralised vetting and barring scheme for people working with children. This piece of legislation was the government's response to the recommendations of that Inquiry and it established a new Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) designed to help prevent unsuitable people from working with children and vulnerable adults. Its role is to assess every person who wants to work or volunteer with vulnerable people. Potential employees and volunteers will need to apply to register with the ISA. In 2011, the Coalition government undertook a review of the vetting and barring scheme and decided to reduce the scope of the scheme and to integrate the ISA with the Criminal Records Bureau.

    Children and Young Persons Act 2008

    The purpose of the Act is to extend the statutory framework for children in care in England and Wales and to ensure that such young people receive high quality care and services which are focused on and tailored to their needs. The 2008 Act endeavours to improve the stability of placements and improve the educational experience and attainment of young people in local authority care or those about to leave care.

    Glossary of Acronyms and Terms

    ACAS Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service – an independent body that aims to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations

    ACMD Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs – independent expert body that advises government on drug-related issues in the UK

    ACPC Area Child Protection Committee – non-statutory predecessor to the statutory Safeguarding Children Board

    ADSS Association of Directors of Social Services – now two associations, one for adult services and the other for children's services – ADASS and ADCS

    APIR Assessment, Planning, Intervention and Review – a process that frames social work activity when responding to a request for a service for a child/young person

    ASD Autism Spectrum Disorder – covers a range of diagnoses associated with autism – a difference in cognitive development that impacts upon social interaction, social communication and social imagination

    ASWP Advanced Social Work Professional – proposed by the CWDC as the advanced stage of the social work career pathway that recognises excellence in practice

    ASYE Assessed and Supported Year in Employment – proposed by the Social Work Task Force as the final stage in becoming a social worker

    BAAF British Association for Adoption and Fostering – charity that supports, campaigns and advises on issues relating to fostering and adoption

    BASW British Association of Social Workers – professional association for social workers

    CAF Common Assessment Framework – a framework for assessing children with additional needs

    CAFCASS Children and Family Court Advisory Service – public body responsible for promoting the welfare of children subject to public and private law proceedings

    CEOP Centre Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre – organisation that aims to eradicate the sexual abuse of children – has a particular focus on trafficking, building intelligence about adult sex offenders and Internet safety

    Child protection Activity to protect specific children suffering or likely to suffer from significant harm

    Child Protection Conference Chair Person responsible for chairing initial and review conferences – usually independent and with no involvement in managing the case

    Children's Guardian A professionally qualified social worker, employed by CAFCASS, who represents the child in public law proceedings and offers an independent view of what should happen in the child's life

    Children's Trust Arrangements, outlined in the Children Act 2004, by which services for children in a local authority area are organised into a trust with the aim of jointly improving outcomes for children/young people

    CIN Child in Need as defined by the Children Act 1989

    CPD Continuous Professional Development, which can be achieved through training, reading, participation in active research, mentoring, co-working, post-qualifying courses etc.

    CRB Criminal Records Bureau – an executive agency of the Home Office that provides data about criminal records to employers relating to individuals working with children or vulnerable adults

    CSA Children Services Authority – a legal entity, defined in the Children Act 2004, that combines education and social care services for children/young people

    CWDC Children's Workforce Development Council – one of six bodies that make up Skills for Care and Development responsible for promoting workforce development and reform. The government intends to withdraw its funding and the legal status of CWDC as a non-departmental public body in 2012

    DCSF Department for Children, Schools and Families – predecessor to DfE

    DDA Disability Discrimination Act 1995 – aims to protect disabled people and prevent disability discrimination – much of this Act has been replaced by the provisions of the Disability and Equality Act 2010

    DfE Department for Education

    DfES Department for Education and Skills – predecessor to DCSF

    DH Department of Health

    DV/DA Domestic violence/domestic abuse

    EBP/EIP Evidence-based practice/evidence-informed practice

    ECM Every Child Matters – Labour government initiative aimed at improving outcomes for children

    EPD Early Professional Development – CWDC pilot programme that concerned the second and third years of social work practice

    EPO Emergency Protection Order – defined by the Children Act 1989

    ESCR Electronic Social Care Record – brings together all information recorded about a service user in one place on a computer-based system

    GSCC General Social Care Council – sets standards of conduct and practice for social care workers and their employers in England, and maintains the Social Care Register. Will cease to exist in 2012 with its functions transferred to the Health Professions Council

    GP General Practitioner

    HPC Health Professions Council – regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards of 17 health professions – due to be renamed and to take over the functions of the GSCC

    ICS Integrated Children's System – aims to provide a conceptual framework, method of practice and business process to support practitioners and managers in undertaking the key tasks of assessment, planning and intervention and review in accordance with legislation

    Inter-agency working More than one agency working together in a planned and formal way towards agreed goals and objectives for the child/young person

    IRO Independent Reviewing Officer – person responsible for reviewing the care plans of Looked After Children, as required by the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and the Children and Young Persons Act 2008

    ISA Independent Safeguarding Authority – body set up as required by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, passed as a result of the Bichard Inquiry – responsible for preventing unsuitable people working with children and vulnerable adults

    LA Local authority – an elected body responsible for ensuring the delivery of local public services

    LAC Looked after child – child in the care of the local authority

    LEA Local education authority – body responsible for ensuring that appropriate education provision is available in a local authority area

    LSCB Local Safeguarding Children Board – a statutory board made up of a local authority and their statutory partners to make sure that key agencies work together to safeguardand promote the welfare of children

    MAPPA Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements – introduced by the Criminal Justice and Courts Services Act 2000 to manage registered sex offenders, violent and other types of sexual offenders, and offenders who pose a serious risk of harm to the public

    MIND Leading mental health charity

    Multi-agency working More than one agency working with a child/young person but not necessarily delivering a joint service

    NEET Not in education, employment or training. Usually refers to 16–25 year old young people

    NSPCC National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children – campaigning charity that is seeking to end cruelty to children

    Ofsted Organisation responsible for the inspection of a range of children's services, including social care, early years settings and schools

    NQSW Newly Qualified Social Worker – CWDC pilot programme for the first year of social work practice

    Parental responsibility Areas in which a parent can exercise legal responsibility for a child as defined by the Children Act 1989

    PLO Public Law Outline – issued by the Ministry of Justice to provide guidance on case management in public law proceedings

    PPR Person Posing a Risk – a person whose history indicates that she/he could pose a risk to a child/young person

    PRTL Post Registration Training and Learning – record of achievement must evidence 15 days of study, training, courses, seminars, reading, teaching or other activities that could reasonably be expected to advance the social worker's professional development. It must be completed every 3 years as required by the GSCC for re-registration purposes

    RIP Research in Practice – a charity that brings together the Dartington Hall Trust, Sheffield University and the ADCS to promote evidence-informed social work practice

    Safeguarding Protecting children from harm and promoting their welfare

    SCIE Social Care Institute for Excellence – government-funded charity that seeks to identify and spread knowledge about good practice to the social care workforce

    SCR Serious Case Review – considers the learning from the involvement of agencies and professionals when a child is seriously injured or dies as a consequence of abuse or neglect – required by Chapter 8 of Working Together to Safeguard Children (DCSF 2010)

    SENCO Special educational needs co-ordinator in schools

    SSI Social Services Inspectorate – one of the predecessors in children's social care of Ofsted

    UNCRC United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – international legally binding instrument that defines the rights of all those under the age of 18 years of age

    YOS Youth Offending Service – multi-agency teams with a statutory responsibility for responding to the needs of young offenders and those on the edge of offending behaviour

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