The topic of Social Care in SEN is a controversial one. The question is what role are they supposed to play? And what role have they adopted?

Often the role of social care in the SEND system is overlooked, undermined and misused.

In an ideal world the correct social care should support children, young people and families in order for them to perform to the best of their abilities and build the best foundation for their lives.

In reality, social care and the role it plays with SEN often means people and families are left without the support they need, and in some cases left in a position where they do not know where to turn…

What role is social care supposed to play?

The role of social care in SEND? – well it’s there in black and white under Section 17(10) of the Children Act 1989, which refers to a disabled child as being a child in need, to qualify for a social care assessment to promote a child’s wellbeing and to prevent the risk of family breakdown. Furthermore, the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Department of Education lay this out in a simple and accessible code of practise! It is a mystery why so many social care professionals struggle to know what their job entails…

A few of the main aspects of the role that are sadly often neglected go as follows:

·     Collaborating with partners in education, health and social care to provide support.

·     Making high quality provision to meet the needs of children and young people.

·     Helping children and young people prepare for adulthood.

·     Identifying children and young people’s needs (‘needs’ being their difficulties not to be confused with what they need).

·     Taking into account the views of children, young people and families.

·     Enabling children, young people and parents to participate in decision-making.

It is painful to say that many of these aspects frequently go unfulfilled…

Playing “the blame game” …

Raise your hand if you as a parent have had the finger pointed at you! This is where it gets ugly and sadly the blame being assigned to the parent is extremely common…

It would be wrong to paint all social workers as callous and disingenuous but unfortunately many parents and professionals have and continue to come across people who just do not understand. Be it due to their own ignorance, lack of understanding or perhaps just because of poor training. Whatever the reason, it is irreverent. No excuse can be made when it comes to aspects of life that effect the quality of the lives of our families. Assigning blame only causes distress and in no way is beneficial to anyone. However, as I already mentioned parents are frequently judged and blamed which not only causes distress but distracts from the needs of the child or young person.

Read our blog on FII – Fabricated or Induced Illness.

Bad Practise and Conduct 

Say a person has a job stacking shelves in a supermarket and they do not perform to the required standard. Most likely, that person would have to find a new job. When it comes to social work it gets a little more complicated. Different local authorities have different policies, different professional code of conducts, different funding. On top of that, the legislations in place regarding SEND are often complex, misinterpreted and in the worst of cases… ignored. 

As previously stated, there are a number of reasons why social workers may do their job poorly. The issue from the parent’s perspective is that they often have no choice but to put their faith in social workers. It is the social worker’s job to understand procedure and comprehend the law, not the parents. 

It is the role of the social worker to execute good practise by keeping accurate records, communicating effectively and consulting with all relevant parties before making decisions. It should go without saying, yet time and time again we see bad practise and bad conduct.

It’s not all bad!

Although so many of us experience negative encounters with social workers, in actuality there are so many out there who are capable, consistent and continue to help those in need to achieve the best possible outcome. I promise!

Obtaining the support we need should not be a challenge and we can only hope that in the future it will get easier. For the time being, Sunshine Support is always here to help you through your SEND journey!