Exploring the Landscape of Children's Social Work in England
Within the realm of Children's Social Care in England, various teams play crucial roles in safeguarding and supporting vulnerable children and their families. While terminologies may differ across different local authorities, understanding the general structure can provide valuable insights into this field.
Children's Duty Team:
Serving as the initial point of contact for professionals and the public, the Children's Duty Team acts as the gateway to children's social care. Comprising a diverse range of support workers and social workers, this team collects necessary information and triages cases to the appropriate teams if further action is required. As the frontline service, they face high demand and may consider qualified candidates from abroad.
The Assessment Team consists of social workers responsible for completing Single Assessments within 40 days and determining the necessary outcomes, such as case closure or support from the Child in Need Team. Familiarity with the Children's Act 1989 and its amendments is essential for social workers from abroad, as it forms the basis of their practice. This team focuses on developing Child in Need (CIN) plans and strives to provide support to families, with the ultimate goal of transitioning them to early help support or case closure.
Child Protection Team:
Contrary to a common stereotype, social workers do not have the authority to remove children from families. Instead, the Child Protection Team works diligently to safeguard children at risk of neglect, emotional, physical, or sexual harm. Evidence-based practices guide their efforts to prove to the court that a child is experiencing or is likely to suffer significant harm. Collaboration with the Court Team becomes crucial if concerns persist and legal actions are required to protect the child.
In cases where ongoing concerns demand legal intervention, the Court Team seeks legal advice to initiate Public Law Proceedings. This team requires strong skills in report writing, organization, communication, and observation. As part of a comprehensive Social Work Bridging program, training and guidance are provided to enhance these skills, including report writing techniques and proficiency with data management systems used by local authorities.
Children in Care Team:
Once a child enters the care system, their case is transferred to the Children in Care Team. Social workers in this team maintain regular contact, conducting visits every 6 weeks during the initial year and subsequently every 12 weeks. To provide stability and continuity of care, many local authorities strive to recruit permanent workers for this team.
Looked after Children Team:
The Looked after Children Team, also referred to as the Child Looked After Team (CLA), supports children who have been placed in care until they reach the age of 21 (or 25 if engaged in education or training). Regular visits by social workers ensure ongoing support and monitoring of the child's well-being. Stable teams are highly valued, as they help mitigate the challenges of multiple professionals entering a child's life. Recruitment efforts by local authorities often focus on securing social workers committed to remaining with them for several years.
Children's Disabilities Team:
The Children's Disabilities Team (CDT) caters to children with permanent disabilities who require specialized provisions, adaptations, or equipment for optimal functioning. Each local authority may have specific criteria for the cases they handle. This team provides valuable support to children and their families, organising necessary services and overseeing the implementation of support plans until the child reaches 18 years of age.
The Fostering Team assumes the responsibility of supervising foster carers, conducting assessments, and presenting cases at panel meetings. They also facilitate training events, attend Looked After Children (LAC) reviews, maintain regular communication with the child's social worker, and provide ongoing support to foster carers.
Social workers in the Adoption Team contribute to the assessment and recruitment of adoptive parents