Committee Update: FCYP and WD December 2018

The Workforce Development and Families, Communities & Young People Policy Committees met on Friday 28 September in London to discuss shared areas of interest. The group received an update on the Practice Supervisor Development Programme (PSDP) from a representative from Research in Practice who are leading a consortium to develop and deliver the programme with the first cohort set to begin in November. Registration from local authorities has been positive, however, members were urged to provide participants to the programme where they have not already done so.

The group was then joined by a representative from the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) for an update on the work of the Centre in providing relevant material for frontline staff and how it has engaged with key stakeholders such as delivering training to Ofsted ahead of their JTAI looking at abuse in the family environment. Cases of neglect and emotional abuse have increased significantly over the past 25 years. Challenges remain around the perceptions of CSA in the media and how it has been overshadowed by CSE due the extra media attention it receives, leading to a loss of focus on CSA. Members noted that many of the key messages around CSA have been known for a long time but that there is now a sense that we need to re-learn a lot of this as our focus has shifted towards online risks.

A senior social work lecturer from the University of Central Lancashire also joined the committee to discuss social work in a digitalised world. They explained that while many of the challenges in social work remain the same, the internet only magnifies these. Practitioners are not always aware of the processes or laws around using social media as a professional and the ethical use of this also needs to be addressed. Members discussed the need for the workforce to be digitally literate and noted that there should be more clarity and guidance on this, possibly from Social Work England as the new sector regulator.

The discussion then moved onto the role of youth work where a representative from the NYA joined the group. A level 6 Youth Work apprenticeship has just received sign-off to be delivered by September 2019 and they are also beginning work on a level 3 qualification which they hope will be in place by mid-2019. The government’s recent Civil Society Strategy, which recognised the transformational impact of youth work, was welcomed and has triggered a review of statutory duties for youth services that is due to begin at the end of 2018.

Representatives from three of the Phase 1 National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS) local authorities were present to provide an update on their experiences. They each noted that using the NAAS for professional development purposes and not making it mandatory has been effective. Representatives highlighted issues around GDPR legislation impacting on local authorities receiving results of the assessments as well as the impact of opposition to the NAAS from some trade unions which has resulted in some workers not participating.

Finally, the group discussed a draft structure of the new ADCS policy position paper building a workforce that works for all children. The paper will set out the need for a strong and functioning workforce that is able to respond to the changing and various needs of all children and families.

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