Call for degree for childcare workers
Caring Times, December 2012
The College of Social Work (TCSW) has called for more investment in the residential child care workforce in the light of child protection failings.
In particular, it has recommended that a ‘Foundation Degree’ in working with children and families is set up for all unqualified care staff in children’s homes or those wishing to start on a career in residential child care.
In a briefing to Lord Listowel for a House of Lords debate on residential child care in October, TCSW recommends the introduction of a Foundation Degree as an entry level qualification for working in residential child care.
It would be equivalent to the first year of the Social Work Degree and aligned with it; so that students who had reached a good standard in the Foundation Degree final assessment and wished immediately, or at some future date, to become social workers might then be eligible for a ‘fast track’ social work honours degree programme.
Foundation Degree qualifiers not wishing to become social workers would enter the residential child care sector and have career progression in that work based on a solid foundation of knowledge, values and skills.
The ‘accelerated report’ by the Deputy Children’s Commissioner, published in July, raised serious concerns about the sexual exploitation of children in residential care. In the briefing, TCSW says that invariably the most damaged children and young people, many of whom have been abused or neglected, are placed in children’s homes where staff are all too often unsupported and poorly trained. It laments the fact that previous calls for more social work involvement in children’s homes, such as that in the Waterhouse inquiry report on North Wales children’s homes in 2000, are still far from being realised in practice.
“Training is a major issue,” said Professor June Thoburn, a member of TCSW’s Policy Development Group.
“It is unacceptable that, in England, no minimum qualifications are required for the role of residential child care worker and it is assumed that they will train on the job.
“The Foundation Degree would be part of career progression into social work, for those who chose it. And for those seeking a career in residential child care the curriculum would aim to equip them with a knowledge of child development and the impact of separation, loss, abuse and neglect, as well as relevant legislation, mental health, and the effect of poverty and environmental deprivation.”