19/03/2010 - Social Workers should be supported - not be demonised.

SIX SOCIAL WORKERS involved in the Khyra Ishaq child abuse case have been sacked by Birmingham City Council.

Seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq, from Handsworth, Birmingham, died in May 2008. She was starved to death. Last week her mother and stepfather were both jailed for her manslaughter.
Khyra’s sad death comes after two other high profile cases.
Some readers may recall the death of Victoria Climbié way back in 2000. She was abused and murdered by her guardians, Marie-Thérèse Kouao and Carl Manning. Both are currently serving life.
Then came the horrific case of 17-month-old Baby Peter from Haringey, in North London. He died in August 2007 after suffering more than 50 injuries over an eight-month period.


In all three cases, local Social Workers were blamed for not preventing the abuse, injury and deaths. 

However, this is a very simplistic line peddled by the mass media. The  media ensured that each case was sensationalised –thus to boosting their circulation figures but not giving the whole picture.

Anyone with an understanding of Britain’s child protection services will know that it is woefully underfunded. There is also a chronic lack of resources. This means that many Social Workers face impossible deadlines, unreasonable caseloads, constant performance inspections and a lack of time to discuss children's needs.

In London, some Social Workers are ‘burnt out’ within two years.

When one adds job cuts, constant restructuring and a huge increase in paperwork into the mix, is it any wonder that some vulnerable children fall through the net?

There are a lot of stereotypical perceptions of social workers out there. And it’s mainly based on incorrect and incomplete information.

Let’s face it, how many people would fancy doing their job? They are usually called in when the normal family support structure can no longer cope. Sometimes they have to deal with horrific cases, like child abuse. And sometimes the decisions they make can be the difference between life and death.

All this is done in a highly-ppressurised environment. Larger case loads mean that there is less time to give each case the detailed attention it deserves. And budget cuts means that there’s no money to pay for overtime. No wonder many Social Workers feel that they’re not valued.

It may not be popular to support these hard-pressed workers who are in the frontline but we do. Solidarity Trade Union is calling for more money and resources to be ploughed into Britain’s child protection services. Social Workers must be supported - not be demonized. They do a difficult job on behalf of us all.