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Out of touch with the front line PDF Print E-mail
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Written by The Times   

Management structures of child protection agencies need to face up to the reality of the front line

Sir, Anthony Douglas is entirely right to focus on the inadequacy of the training, remuneration and consequent calibre of frontline child protection social workers (“Image problem haunts child social work”, Jan 23). His analysis could perhaps have extended to management structures and those who preside over them.

Directors of children’s services seem now to be overwhelmingly from a protected background in educational administration. They have little experience of the late Friday afternoon crisis — angry and distressed parents, distraught children awaiting a home and no available placements. Such was the career rite of passage of almost all of the former directors of social services until three years ago.

But it is not just training that is required. A change of mindset also seems necessary. Most of the new directors seem to be insulated from the front line by a multi-tier hierarchy. I wonder how many now wander into the local office and ask: “How’s it going?”

Regulatory bodies seem equally flummoxed by the reality at the front line. Ofsted judged Haringey Council to have ticked the boxes of Lord Laming’s 108 post-Climbié recommendations until events forced it to return and conclude otherwise.

John Rea Price

Eastbridge, Suffolk


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