Social Work England (SWE), the UK’s watchdog for children’s social care, would like feedback from child welfare-experienced families about its proposals to improve how social workers are regulated.
SWE have said they would like to hear from children, families, members of the public, other professional regulators and any organisation or individual engaged in social work.
The consultation — which has been set up as a survey — is asking for thoughts on several technical changes SWE is looking to make to the Social Workers Regulations 2018.
Researching Reform will be sending in a submission about a current loophole which allows unqualified or unregistered individuals engaging in social work to evade registration and regulation.
The document for the consultation says the proposals are intended to provide “benefits to children, families, adults and wider society as a result of the proposed changes which support the regulator in its overarching public protection objective” and to “allow Social Work England to improve its existing flexible model of professional regulation to secure public protection, foster professionalism, and ensure standards of practice.”
The consultation’s introduction also explains that each of the proposed changes seeks to do one of the following: • give greater clarity to the regulator’s processes; or • remove operational inefficiencies identified by the regulator and/or the Department for Education; or • correct unintended anomalies in the original drafting.
The key areas in social worker regulation being addressed are:
A duty to cooperate with other regulators
The registration of social workers
Discipline and fitness to practise proceedings
Powers of intervention
Other legislation which needs to be amended to improve regulation
Listed offences which allow SWE to strike off a social worker without launching a fitness to practice hearing
A very helpful table is added which offers a list of all the propose changes, explained in clear and straightforward language.
The draft amendments are included after the table.
The Children and Families Truth Commission (formerly the Best Interests of the Child Review) is holding its next Zoom session on Sunday, and we have lots to share with you.
The commission, like the original review, will be documenting the experiences of children and their families inside the child protection sector, with a focus on how their human rights have been affected by decision-making, policies and laws inside the system.
At the online event the team will:
Explain why we decided to change our investigation from a Review to a Truth Commission
Ask you for your thoughts on the website, the consent form and our proposals for collecting your experiences of the child protection system in Britain
As always this event will be about you and your needs. The head of the commission, Michele Simmons, will host the event and Simon Haworth and Researching Reform (Natasha Phillips) will be offering Michele support and answering any questions directed at us.
Please spread the word if you’re happy to – our goal is to fill the commission with your voices and experiences and to amplify them so they cannot be ignored.
The event will take place on Sunday 3 April from 5pm to 6pm.
If you’d like to attend please email the commission at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please let us know in your email if you are a parent or child who has experienced the child protection system, or a child welfare practitioner working in the sector. Registered attendees will receive a Zoom link for the event.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) contacted Researching Reform about a roundtable it is holding on 27 April for its inquiry into the forced adoption of children of unmarried women between 1949 and 1976.
“Thank you for your interest in the JCHR’s inquiry into the adoption of children of unmarried mothers between 1959-76, and for publicising the roundtable event that the Committee is holding on 27 April 2022 in Westminster on the Researching Reform website.
We welcome expressions of interest to attend that event from anyone involved in the adoption process during those decades, and in particular the birth parents and adopted people.
The scope of the inquiry is, however, limited to the adoption of the children of unmarried mothers during that period, and it is the lived experiences of those touched by those adoptions specifically on which the roundtable will be focusing, rather than more recent adoptions.“
Researching Reform wrote back to the committee and invited them to explain why the inquiry had been restricted to women who had experienced forced adoption during that period.
This was the committee’s answer:
“The reason for the timeframe of the current inquiry relates to the regulatory and legislative changes made to adoption practices by two pieces of legislation – the Adoption of Children Act 1949, introduced after World War II and which changed the adoption landscape and the Adoption Act 1976, which introduced much tighter regulation and introduced many of the recommendations that had been made in 1972 by the Houghton Committee on Adoption.
That said, the Committee has tried to be as flexible as possible in accepting written evidence from unmarried women who had babies a little before or after that time, and whose babies were then adopted, the grown children themselves, or anyone else touched by those particular adoption processes.“
We did not ask the committee whether they had been flooded with requests to attend the event by families affected by recent forced adoptions, though we are aware that events publicised on the site relating to forced adoption often garner attention.
Researching Reform understands that many families in Britain will be disappointed by this response, but we will be unveiling a project shortly which we hope will help.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has published its latest round of complaints, which include complaints about children’s social care, local authority handling of child protection cases and the provision of education and educational support.
This week Researching Reform is just going to add the Ombudsman newsletter as we received it, rather than pulling out cases we think may be of interest. It’s a labour intensive exercise, and we’re not sure whether it is useful to our readers. However we have put phrases and sentences in bold for featured child protection complaints.
Children and Education
Please note: our decisions are published six weeks after they are issued to councils, care providers and the person who has made the complaint. The cases below reflect the caselaw and guidance available at the time of issue and the individual circumstances of each case.
Summary: Miss C complained about the care and support she received from the Council as a child. Miss C says because of the Council’s fault she did not receive proper support and missed out on a care leavers grant.
Summary: Ms X complained about fault and delay in the way the Council provided support for her child’s special educational needs and care needs. There is no evidence of fault by the Council that has caused a significant injustice. Disagreement about provision made in an Education, Health and Care plan is outside the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman as Ms X had a right of appeal to Tribunal, which she has used. The Ombudsman cannot consider any loss of education during the period of the appeal. The complaint is not upheld.
Summary: Mr B complained about delay and fault by the Council in issuing an EHC plan for his son C and a failure to provide alternative education for C while he was unable to attend school. We found fault with the Council’s actions: it delayed in issuing the EHC plan and failed to provide education for C for 11 months. The Council has agreed to pay Mr B £4,500 for the benefit of C’s education and £500 to Mr B for his distress, frustration and time and trouble. It has also agreed to take steps to improve its procedures for the future.
Summary: There was fault by the Council in the way it dealt with Y, a child with special educational needs. There was a failure to complete a timely review of his Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan), poor communication and a delay in identifying an alternative education programme for Y. The Council will apologise, issue an amended EHC Plan and make payments described in this statement.
Summary: The Council failed to follow up its request for a school to bring forward an annual review of an Education, Health and Care plan within a reasonable timescale. This did not cause injustice to Mr X, as his son remained in a suitable school throughout.
Summary: Mr and Mrs K complain the Council did not treat their nephew as a looked after child, after its social worker asked them to accommodate him. That meant they did not receive a fostering allowance. The Ombudsman upholds the complaint, as we find fault with the Council’s communications and record keeping. We cannot say the Council should have treated Mr and Mrs K’s nephew as a looked after child. But the Council has agreed to our recommendation of a remedy for the uncertainty caused by the faults.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s children’s services involvement with the complainants family. This is because we cannot add to the investigation already carried out by the Council and we cannot achieve the outcome the complainant seeks.
Summary: Ms X complains that the Council failed to deal properly with her complaint about the way it treated her as a foster carer, and failed to provide an adequate remedy for her. We find there was fault by the Council. It has already recognised some fault but it has not provided an adequate remedy. The Council has agreed to make a payment in addition to the action it has already taken.
Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about a substantiated outcome being recorded on his file following a LADO process. This is because it is unlikely an investigation could add to the response already provided by the Council’s investigation and we cannot achieve the outcome Mr X seeks.
Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council’s consideration of his child’s safety and its assessment of with whom she should have lived. This is not a separable matter from those that were or could have been considered in court and investigation would not lead to a worthwhile outcome.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the level of Special Guardianship allowance provided by the Council. This is because the events happened too long ago, and I see no reason why the complaint could not have been made sooner.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about what social workers said in court and closing Mr X’s case. This is because the complaint does not meet the tests in our Assessment Code on how we decide which complaints to investigate. We cannot investigate matters that have been heard in court. Mr X has a right to return to court it would be reasonable to use to pursue contact with his children.
Summary: I have discontinued my investigation. Ms X had a right of appeal in February 2020 and in July 2021 which we would have expected her to use. The Ombudsman cannot achieve the outcome Ms X wants. The Ombudsman cannot direct changes to an EHC plan or name a different school, only the SEND tribunal can do this.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about delay in meeting a child’s special educational needs. Most of the matters complained of are not separable from the dispute over what the child’s needs are, which has been subject to appeals to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. We could not achieve a worthwhile outcome by investigating the remaining matters, which are minor.
Summary: Miss X complains the Council failed to investigate allegations she made against her family when she was a child and disclosed information to her family against her wishes. The Council is not at fault.
Summary: We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint about the Council not providing financial assistance to her granddaughter while at university. There is not enough evidence of fault to warrant investigation.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s children’s services involvement with matters relating to the complaints contact arrangements with her child, including how the complainants requests for information are dealt with. This is because contact arrangements are subject to court proceedings and the Information Commissioner is best placed to deal with data protection matters.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about about how the Council dealt with safeguarding concerns raised about a child’s care. This is because court proceedings have commenced to consider the child’s care, and the complaint is not separable from matters which are subject to these proceedings.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about a report the Council’s children’s services produced for the courts. The law prevents us from considering complaints about matters that have been considered during court proceedings.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about how the Council assessed a child’s special educational needs. This is because this concerns a matter which has been appealed to a tribunal. We will not investigate other elements because they are either late or have not yet been considered by the Council.
Summary: We will not investigate Miss X’s complaint about the Council’s failure to provider her a washing machine and its complaint handling after she contacted the Council. That is because there is insufficient evidence of outstanding significant injustice to justify our involvement.
Summary: We will not investigate Ms X’s complaint about the Council’s decision to place her children on a child protection plan. We cannot consider the merits of the Council’s decision where there is no sign of fault in the process by which it was reached.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about recognition of parental responsibility after an adoption overseas. Mr X and his wife have a right to go to court to establish the status of an adopted child it would be reasonable to use.
Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about the content of a report. This is because this matter is not separable from matters which have been before a court, and about which it would be reasonable to return to court.
Summary: We will not investigate Mr and Mrs X’s complaint about safeguarding incidents involving Mr Y when he was a pupil at a special needs school and the Council’s actions in later years. We cannot investigate a complaint on behalf of Mr Y because he used his legal remedy against the Council at court. The complaint is made late. There is no significant injustice remaining which we can or should investigate.
Summary: The Council was at fault for failing to provide appropriate education and special educational provision to Ms X’s son. It was also at fault for not reviewing Ms X’s son’s Education Health and Care plan within the required timeframe. The Council has agreed to apologise, make a payment for loss of education and special educational provision and review its practices for Annual Reviews of Education, Health and Care plans.
Summary: The Council was not at fault for how it dealt with Mr B’s concerns about a foster child in his care, or for how it conducted his exit interview after he resigned as a foster carer. It was, however, at fault for how it dealt with his complaint. The Council has agreed to apologise to Mr B.
Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about the actions of social workers. The matters complained of are not separable from those involving in an ongoing court process concerning the care of children.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council ignoring a court order about where Mr X’s grandchildren should live. Mr X has a right to return to court it would be reasonable for him to use as only a court can decide disputes about where children should live.
Summary: Mrs X complains that the Council failed to provide a suitable education for her daughter when she was unable to attend school due to ill health. She says the remedy offered is inadequate. She also states she was given inadequate information on the implications of home educating or the available alternatives. The Council is at fault and has caused injustice to Mrs X’s daughter. It has agreed an enhanced financial remedy and a service improvement.
Summary: Ms X complained about the Independent Appeal Panel’s decision not to admit her daughter to a school she expressed a preference for. Ms X said the appeal panel did not consider her daughter’s individual circumstances and the criteria used was unfair. Ms X said this caused her family stress and anxiety. We find no fault with how the panel considered Ms X’s appeal.
Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about how the Council carried out an Education Health and Care needs assessment. This is because the complainant has used their right to appeal about the outcome to a tribunal, which places the matter outside our jurisdiction.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about how the Council have assessed a child’s special educational needs, which the complainant says will result in an inadequate Education Health and Care plan. This is because the contend of the plan carry the right of appeal to a tribunal.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s response to the complainant’s concerns about his daughter’s welfare. This is because it concerns matters which can be considered in Court.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s actions in relation to the care of the complainant’s children. This is because the complaint does not meet the tests in our Assessment Code on how we decide which complaints to investigate. The decisions to remove the children were taken by the courts, and the matter is therefore not in our jurisdiction.
Summary: We will not investigate Miss X’s complaint about an inaccurate children service’s report. It is unlikely we could achieve more than the Council’s offer to place Miss X’s comments next to the report.