New qualifications for social workers should make the service more professional and improve work with children, the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work said this week.
Social workers have come in for great criticism after eight-year-old Anna Climbie was found to have been murdered by her aunt and her aunt's boyfriend. The judge said the child was failed by social workers, doctors and the police.
The Department of Health is taking views on the JM Consulting report Review of the Diploma in Social Work , which recommended the development of a three-year undergraduate social work qualification. Ziggi Alexander, chairperson of the CCETSW said: "By increasing the training from two to three years, we anticipate that the student learning will be more comprehensive and the qualification will be more comparable with other professional qualifications."
The CCETSW has also developed a post-qualifying award in childcare for accredited social workers. The award was worked out with the Department of Health and the administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based on the national occupational standards for post-qualifying level, which have been developed by Topss, the national training organisation for social care. The DoH is funding eight pilot childcare programmes in England. Nine other schemes will receive development funding in 2000-01, subject to the CCETSW's approval. These courses will be run by universities in partnership with social services departments.
Ms Alexander said:"We firmly believe the new award will help qualified social workers to improve and develop their practice with children and families and strengthen the assessment of learning." There is a shortage of social workers, with a national vacancy rate of 16 per cent.
Health secretary Alan Milburn has announced a statutory inquiry into the death of Anna Climbie. It will examine the actions of local councils as well as the police and the National Health Service.