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ADCS president: Social workers can act in a “formulaic and reactionary” way

Dave Hill says less children should be taken into care

Social workers can act in a way that is “formulaic and reactionary” and sometimes intervene too readily, the new president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services has warned.

In his inaugural speech as the new ADCS president, Essex director Dave Hill has said that social workers “intervene too often and sometimes too readily”.

“Where we need to intervene we should do so decisively and with the welfare of children at the heart of all we do,” said Hill. “Children, young people, their families and communities are more resilient than we give them credit for.”

“Social Workers and other professionals can on occasions act in a way that is formulaic and reactionary, the most skilled know how to work with rather than doing unto children and families,” he added.

Hill said that all too often, looked-after children are spoken about in relation to their over-representation in the prison, mental health, unemployment statistics and so on.

“We may need to take fewer children into care than we currently do but for those children and young people that come into our care, we need to enhance their life chances and massively improve their outcomes,” said Hill.

The president said he would like to see a policy shift towards a much more holistic approach to early years, saying that too many opportunities to help parents of young children were being missed. He added that there remains an “under-class” of families often repeating intergenerational cycles of deprivation, lack of opportunity and poor outcomes and more work should be done.

Hill said that improving outcomes for children means “breaking the cycle of adult disadvantage” and highlighted that “good social work with adults also helps children”. He pledged to strengthen the work between the ADCS and the Association of Directors of Adult Services to ensure that the social work reform agenda recognises the link between adults and children’s social work.

“My overarching personal priority as President will be: Changing the public narrative about the care system – I am passionate about getting a more balanced view of our care system into political and public discourse,” he concluded.

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