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Children’s services workforce need protecting as a matter of urgency

Social work leaders have urged the government to do all it can to ensure the children’s services workforce, including foster carers, are protected as a matter of priority.

The president of the Association of Director of Children’s Services, Jenny Coles, said the children’s services workforce including social workers, staff in children’s homes and education settings, have continued to support vulnerable children and families throughout the pandemic.

“The support and care that all parts of the workforce provide is equally important in meeting children’s needs. The government must do all it can so that these essential workers, as well as foster carers, are protected as a matter of priority,” said Ms Coles.

While the workforce adapted during the first lockdown with improved access to PPE enabling them to conduct visits, the current lockdown and spread of the virus has understandably increased people’s anxieties.

“ADCS continues to urge government to include children’s services staff in its priority list for receiving access to appropriate testing and the vaccine. Despite the new and increased restrictions, many of our staff will remain on the front line providing vital support for those children and families that need it the most. It is essential that we can ensure their safety as quickly as possible,” added Ms Coles.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI): advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination, 30 December 2020 identifies frontline social workers who provide care to vulnerable people as a high priority for vaccination. It recognises the risks that health, social care and social workers face in delivering services.

The professional association for social workers, BASW, recommends that social workers take-up vaccination against Covid-19 when it is offered to them. The offer of vaccination may come through employers or other means such as a GP or other health professional/service.

BASW is working to ensure social workers and social care workers in all types of provider organisations are prioritised for vaccination and have access equal to that for health and other priority staff within the practicalities of the roll out programme.

A position statement from the Association says that social workers need to be ready to deal with the issues that social work service users and carers raise about vaccination within the context of existing legislation and policy around supporting positive health outcomes

Social workers should be particularly alert and informed in respect of informed consent, parental consent and processes to determine best interests when a person lacks capacity to decide about the vaccine, to protect people’s rights and wellbeing, the statement adds.

The position statement is available here

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