The Children and Social Work Bill

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As we’ve previously discussed, this upset still, by and large, stems from the idea of removing statutory responsibilities from local authorities and allowing private sector companies to take over these obligations. A number of activists representing among others, Legal Action for Women and Single Mother’s Self Defence, wrote, again to the Guardian, this week to say that removing these statutory services from local government responsibility ‘amounts to a rapists charter’.

Wow.

Again and again this argument crops up that privatising services will amount to a dangerous deterioration in services. Now, I’m not here to argue that everything contained in the bill is a positive step or the way forward. The Government’s dogged determination to push adoption as the answer to all children’s problems for example is clearly nonsense. It undermines some superb long term care offered by foster carers, both through the local authority and IFAs (Independent Fostering Agencies), not to mention long term residential, again public and private. I’ve discussed my opinions on this before and I still firmly believe that the private sector offer much higher quality residential care on the whole.

The previously mentioned letter states that many mothers struggle to keep their children away from social workers prioritising care for their children rather than remaining at home. Many of these women are from low income, deprived areas, have learning difficulties or mental health issues or are from ethnic minorities. The implication here is that social workers, if employed by the private sector would be encouraged to remove children into private providers care settings in a circle of abuse of power to make a quick profit.

I’m a social worker. I work for the private sector. Never once have I, nor would I consider acting to oppress a family or tear a child away from its parents unless it was absolutely necessary. All social workers have a duty and a responsibility to work in the best interests of their service users, not to act oppressively or discriminate against anyone. I would argue in fact, those of us in my position to work without the constant, all dominating, bureaucracy of the local authority can often achieve better results that our public sector colleagues. Often amazing workers will find their best practice, best nature and best intentions overwhelmed by red tape and procedures undermining the work they want to do with their clients.

The privatisation of certain aspects of social care should not be demonised as a capitalist monster which values it’s profits over the safety of children and service users. Things are never as black and white as that.

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