A directory launched on Sunday, housing the names of social workers who have been recommended by service users has received over 300 messages, which offer interesting insights into service users’ experiences, and the child protection sector.
The Good Social Worker was created by Michele Simmons and Natasha Phillips, who wanted to create a site for parents and children which could offer them reassurance about their social worker, and give passionate social care professionals the chance to highlight their commitment to the families and children they assist.
While the directory has been met with cynicism by a few service users, most families who contacted the founders of the directory have welcomed the initiative, feeling it has offered them a place to seek out competent social workers.
The initial findings from the directory are thought provoking. Several service users said that they had engaged with good social workers, but within a short period of time those social workers had then left the sector. Some families implied that this was because the social workers felt pressure to conform to unethical practices or processes that were not in the best interests of the families they were helping. The departure of these social workers significantly affected families, who felt that they had lost a vital advocate who made them feel safe and understood.
Other families had experienced multiple social workers during the lives of their cases, a feature of the current system which many parents and children find deeply unsettling, but there were also positive stories of social workers going above and beyond their current duties.
One service user told us:
“The social workers attended a private court hearing for me to get contact with my older kids on a Special Guardianship Order. They didn’t have to come and weren’t involved with my children but they both came to support me and speak up for me to the judge.”
This kind of feedback is important because it highlights the gaps in current social work services.
Other interesting information emerging from the directory relates to the concentration of good social workers in specific areas, with Hastings and Sefton in the lead. Three social workers in each area have been nominated by families for their help and support.