BASW North East branch position statement on the Care Review

Following the recent branch discussion on the forthcoming Review of Children’s Social Care in England (‘the Review’), and further follow discussions among branch committee members, the following branch position statement was sent to BASW England committee on 9th February 2021 for its consideration.

• The branch committee is not sufficiently confident in the current chair’s ability to undertake the role with the independence and expertise necessary to ensure maximum benefit for children, young people and families in this ‘once in a generation’ review;

• Given the above, committee calls for the chair to recuse himself from chairing the Review;

Committee calls for the Review to appoint a new chair through a fair, open and transparent process who meets the essential criteria of independence, expertise and experience and who has the trust of experts by experience and other stakeholders;

• Committee calls for the Review terms of reference to be rewritten to extend the timeframe to a minimum of two years, and to provide more detail on the process, including, crucially, on the support offer to experts by experience contributing to the review, which in our view warrants special and particular attention due to the fact that the review will take place at least in part in a pandemic when people’s usual support networks are potentially less available and less accessible;

• Committee calls on the review to rewrite the terms of reference to include consideration of help and support to prevent children, young people and families coming into care in the first place, and to remove prejudicial references to ‘boosting adoption’; further, the language and content should be focused on support for children, young people and families, rather than on framing them as economic burdens;

• Committee calls for reassurance from the Review team that the Review will not deemphasise in the presentation of its findings, its analysis of the findings, or in its recommendations, the unquestionable adverse impact on children’s outcomes of poverty stemming from politically-chosen austerity;

• Committee calls for reassurance from the Review team that the Review will not preclude the possibility of calling for investment in initiatives and projects that have improved the lives and experiences of children, young people and families but which do not align with known central government agendas or initiatives;

• Committee calls on BASW England committee to echo and amplify the above and to offer constructive and, where and when necessary, strong challenge should the Review process fall short of, or run counter to, the values social workers seek to advance, express and advocate for in relation to support for children, young people and families;

• Committee calls on BASW to take a lead role in promoting awareness, discussion and informed, critical discourse on the Review in line with its mission to improve the working conditions and experiences of social workers, who will be directly affected by the outcome of the Review; in particular, BASW and indeed all social workers have a moral duty to promote students’ and early career social workers’ engagement with the Review, not least because their practice and working conditions will be shaped by the Review for many years to come.

Concerned citizen/novice by experience. Thru a social work lens. Working class person.