25% of children will have a social worker before their 16th birthday

(Jay et al., 2020)

These children deserve safety and stability, and the support of life-changing professionals who can empower them to achieve their full potential.

Why we are here

Over 700,000 children in England rely on the support of social workers each year. These children are affected by the challenges their parents experience — for example, poverty, domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental ill health – with some suffering from neglect or abuse as a result. Children growing up in these circumstances are more likely to struggle with social, emotional and mental health difficulties, and do significantly worse than their peers at all stages of education. They may also be more vulnerable to being drawn into child sexual exploitation, drug misuse, knife crime and county lines; all of which place them at significant risk. These children need and deserve the support of life-changing social work professionals who can empower them to achieve their full potential and help to break the cycle of trauma and disadvantage.

Putting children and families first

Unfortunately, the social work system does not always empower social workers to do their best work, nor give them the freedom to make the best choices for children and families. Social workers typically have high caseloads and are unable to have as much direct contact with children and families as they feel they need, often as a result of bureaucratic procedures and layers of management. This can prevent social workers from receiving the support they need, and ultimately from delivering the quality of practice that children and families need and deserve. This directly impacts the experience of children and families; too often it feels as though they are being taken through a list of rules and procedures created by the social care system, without any real opportunity to get help. This can make them feel stigmatised, not listened to and disempowered, creating a hostile environment that is far less conducive for change.

 

In order to unfailingly put children’s needs at the heart of all decision making, a systemic approach to social work is vital. Only when social workers have the time to get to know children and families, prioritise building relationships above process and remain curious and reflective, can the best outcomes be achieved for children.