BASW asks media to show social workers more support

Responding to reports this morning about four children in Dundee allegedly removed from their parents because of concerns over obesity, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has asked the media to show greater confidence in social workers and to properly inform the public about the complex and independent legal processes that are followed before any decision to take a child into care is made.

BASW’s chief executive Hilton Dawson said: “Social workers always work closely with families before a child is removed from its parents and would only seek to recommend such a step where it is in the best interests of the child.

“Social workers are duty bound to investigate circumstances where a child may be being abused or neglected but any major decision about their future will be taken by a court following due process and in the light of a thorough multi-disciplinary assessment. Social work professionals would be rightly criticised if they did not act where appropriate to the safeguard the very best interests of a child.

“Although unable to comment on the precise details of this case, we know very well that in Scotland the ultimate decisions on removal are taken by the well-respected Children’s Hearing System, following an investigation by the independent Children’s Reporter. As such, while social workers will make referrals and will provide a view within the Hearing System, they are in no sense the judge and jury in the decision making process.

“Social workers are hard working professionals striving for the best outcomes for some of our most vulnerable and underprivileged families. BASW would urge the media and the public to take a closer look at their work and recognise its crucial importance.

“Although the public only usually hear about social work when something has gone wrong we are proud of research which demonstrates that social workers have played key roles in reducing the number of child deaths over the last 30 years. Child Protection systems are well founded on balanced laws and procedures – the public, who pay for social work services, should be able to have greater confidence in the work that we do. Ultimately, children will benefit from more realistic reporting of our role.”