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Inquiry into children's workforce launched

An inquiry into children's social care workforce has been launched by the Education Committee.

The committee of MPs, chaired by Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, will examine what is needed from social work and what social workers need to ensure that children are adequately protected and supported.

Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said: "Children, young people and their families receive vital support from social workers. Yet children and their families in receipt of social work support are often those who have the worst outcomes.
For example, 14% of looked after children get five good GCSEs, 39% of care leavers are NEET [not in education, employment or training], and one in four women who had a child removed through the family courts is likely to go back to court to have another child removed.

"Reports suggest that children are under increasing pressures as they grow up, facing up to a rise in mental health problems, a rise in knife crime and serious violence, and experiencing a range of challenges in areas such as social media use. We want to explore what social work looks like in 2019 and examine the skills and support that social workers need to keep children and young people safe from harm and to help them grow up to thrive as adults," he added.

The Committee will look at:

- Issues around the capacity of social workers to intervene early to provide support,

- How effectively social workers can access professional development and support,

- How initiatives and reforms to social work training have impacted on the workforce,

- How far social workers are supported to uphold their responsibilities under relevant legislation.

This inquiry, which will build on the committee's previous work on fostering, alternative provision and special educational needs, is likely to pick up on concerns about the impact of time-pressures on social care work, with increasing reports of time not being available to enable social workers to do their work effectively.

It is also likely to focus on issues including the impact of high turnover of staff in some social care departments across the country.

The Committee is inviting written submissions addressing the following questions:

The capacity and ability of social workers to:

- Intervene early to help, support and protect children and their families

- Uphold their responsibilities under relevant legislation

- Access appropriate and meaningful professional development and support; and

- Work with other professionals who play a role in the care of children within the education and health systems

In addition, it is seeking responses on how initiatives and reforms to social work training have impacted on the social work workforce.

"We want all children to have the very best start in life, and social workers play vital roles in keeping families together, children and young people safe and providing much needed support," Robert Halfon concluded.

The deadline for written evidence submissions is Friday 30 August. Send a written submission to the Children’s social care workforce inquiry.

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