Private Social Work Practice Pilots

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2010 Local Government Service Group Conference
17 February 2010

This Conference notes:

The Children and Young Person’s Act 2008 and the piloting of independent ‘Social Work Practices’ to care for ‘Looked after Children’. That ‘Looked after Children’ are a very vulnerable group of young people who are cared for by the state either due to them being removed from the care of their family or where their family is unable to care for them.

The development of 6 social work practice pilots in: Blackburn & Darwen, Liverpool, Hillingdon, Kent, Staffordshire and Sandwell.

This conference:

1)supports the principle identified by the Act of promoting the ‘continuous personal relationship’ between a young person in care and their social worker but remains concerned that the Act will corrode rather than promote that relationship and that ‘social work practices’ will potentially destabilise and outsource the employment of local authority children’s social workers weakening the arrangements for the accountability for the care of this vulnerable group.

2)believes that the primary agenda of ‘Social Work Practices’ is for the privatisation of the provision of a statutory service and opening up of a further sphere of the public sector to corporate capture.

3)believes that the suggest ‘social enterprise’ business model or ‘Social Work Practices’ and the claim to release practitioners from bureaucracy is an illusion. The main players are and will be ‘for profit’ businesses, at present Private Equity companies play a significant role in the independent residential care sector for young people.

Conference therefore calls on the Service Group Executive to:

a)Campaign against the future privatisation of services for ‘looked after children’ and to make the case for them to continue to be provided by Local Authorities;

b)To continue to provide support and guidance to UNISON Branches in the areas of ‘Social Work Practices’ are to be piloted.

c)To monitor the implementation and scrutinise the evaluation of the pilots of the ‘Social Work Practices’ and to ensure there is a level playing field in the comparison between the pilots and local authority services;

d) To undertake research to:

i)identify the role of potential providers of ‘Social Work Practices’ and viability and consequences of the proposed business model

ii)identify and highlight good practice in the recruitment and retention of children’s social work staff by local authorities

e)To provide regular briefings to Branches