Social work fears being sidelined
By Neil Puffett
Children & Young People Now
18 May 2010
Social workers are calling on the new coalition government to show its commitment to the profession amid fears that looked-after children and child protection issues could be overlooked.
The decision to change the name of the Department for Children, Schools and Families to the Department for Education has sparked particular concerns that children's social care will be a low priority compared with schools.
Nushra Mansuri, professional officer at the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), said the fact that the new Education Secretary Michael Gove had written to civil servants without mentioning social care was "a worry".
"We need them to be very vocal about the work of social workers and the whole safeguarding agenda," she said. "We need them to put their money where their mouth is and come out with strong messages - to lead from the front from the very beginning.
"We don't need to see the children's safeguarding agenda on the back burner or become lower priority or status."
But Mansuri said there is cause to be optimistic, despite worries about the future. "It is a double-edged sword," she said.
"The Conservatives have written two papers on social work and its importance, saying that we need to have an adviser equivalent to the chief medical officer, which would be quite positive.
"There is such an opportunity for the social work taskforce to really go for it," added Mansuri.
The coalition government has yet to confirm whether it will proceed with Labour's proposal to set up the College of Social Work. But a spokesman for BASW said it is assuming the plans will still go ahead