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Government announce implementation of Laming recommendations

Date:7 MAY 2009

The Government has announced a wide ranging package of measures setting out how it will deliver the step-change in child protection called for by Lord Laming in his recent progress report.

The action plan commits to greater openness and public scrutiny of local child protection arrangements, as well as more investment in training and support for front line social workers.

This reform will be driven forward by a new cross-Government delivery unit working alongside Sir Roger Singleton, the first ever Chief Adviser on the Safety of Children.

The package also outlines a £58 million six-point plan to transform the social work profession.

The Government will sponsor 200 university places from September, so that graduates, from any discipline, can sign up to the conversion courses to become part of the social work profession.

A new recruitment campaign will specifically target social workers who may have left the profession to give the current work force a boost.

The Government will also roll out the Newly Qualified Social Workers pilots so that all new social workers joining statutory and voluntary services this September, and all overseas children's qualified social workers who need it, can receive high quality supervision and protected time for training to support them in becoming confident and competent in their first year of practice.

New funding has been promised for a practice-based Masters in social work to start in early 2011 so that social workers can continue to develop their knowledge, skills and expertise.

Also announced yesterday is a new Advanced Social Work Professional Status programme to create senior practice-focused roles to keep experienced social workers in children's services. Local Authorities working with the Children's Workforce Development Council will begin assessing candidates in October so that they can be in post by early next year.

The Government says that this new money brings the total investment in the workforce to £109 million over the next two years.

The Government has also published the first report of the Social Work Task Force setting out their advice on implementing Lord Laming's recommendations, including about the future of the Integrated Children's System (ICS).

The Task Force advised that effective record-keeping is an essential part of good social work; but that the ICS should be reformed so that it is less prescriptive and allows more scope for professional social workers' judgment.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls said: "In his progress report, Lord Laming found that we have good foundations in place, but that more needs to be done.

"Our ambition is for social work to be a high quality profession, with the confidence and support of the public, but to do this we must give social workers the training and support they need to develop and become a confident workforce.

"I want every social worker to be proud of the contribution they make and for every child to get the protection they deserve."

Childrens charity, Barnardo's, welcomed the Government response to Lord Laming's recommendations.

Martin Narey, Barnardo's Chief Executive said: "The establishment of a National Safeguarding Delivery Unit, investment in the recruitment and retention of social workers, strengthening of local government safeguarding boards and emphasis on continued joint working must be welcomed.

"As our memories of Baby P fade, the default option for the public will be to assume that social workers routinely and uncaringly tear families apart. We need to accept that we can only try so hard and for so long to fix families, and for some children, care and fostering will be a better option."