NSPCC releases guide to help social workers avoid common mistakes

The NSPCC has launched a guide for social workers to address the most common mistakes made when dealing with child protection cases.

Ten Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them is primarily aimed at social work professionals and students, but is also targeting anyone involved in child protection referrals and plans, such as those working in education, health and the police.

Some of the common problems highlighted in the guide are early information not being properly recorded or checked; information from family members and friends not being given sufficient weight; and not enough attention paid to what children say.

Dr Karen Broadhurst, lead author of the booklet, said: “A number of recent serious case reviews, such as that of Khyra Ishaq, have highlighted problems both in deciding which children’s cases get an initial investigation, and with the quality of initial assessments.

“The sheer volume of referrals presents an enormous challenge to initial assessment teams, which often have to make decisions within short timescales, and on the basis of limited information. This combination of pressures can result in quick categorisations, which do not always ensure services meet children’s needs.”

The child protection charity first published a guide for social workers in 1998 but has decided to update this because of significant changes to processes of referral and response in local authority children’s services.