There was an excellent piece (£) in the Sunday Times yesterday by Harriet Sergeant about the scandal of children in care. While there is much to be angry and depressed she also identifies a few slivers of hope. rather than simply wallowing in gloom also considering what could be – to an extent is being – done to improve things.
We could start by asking a simple question: given all the problems with the care system, why are more children not adopted? The government has made moves in this direction but the numbers are a trickle when they should be a flood.
Unfortunately, social workers see the bond with the birth mother as all-important and adoption by a usually middle-class couple as suspect. It is just one example where ideology comes first and the interests of the child a poor second.
Until now no one could become a social worker without first completing a degree in social work, described to me cheerfully by one social worker as “Marxist rubbish which you have to pretend to
“Endless stuff,” according to another, “on the importance of considering the individual case in the ‘context’ of how the capitalist system must be overthrown.”
This is why the announcement last week by Michael Gove, the education secretary, of a £5m programme to recruit graduates from top universities to work as child protection social workers is so welcome.
Those accepted on the scheme, modelled on the successful Teach First programme, will attend a five-week residential summer school at a leading university and then go straight to hands-on work in a local authority for the next two years.
Crucially, they will not go near a social worker course. It is only a small start, but finally we may begin to see some common sense and compassion in our care system.
I wrote about the pernicious nature of social work degrees last November. That there is no an alternative route to this vital profession, offered by the Frontline training scheme, is fantastic news. Any council that wishes to put the interests of children first would be well advised to recruit social workers from this programme, with in-work training, rather than those whose minds have been poisoned by spending three years undertaking a social work degree.