Guidance detailing the roles and functions of social work in England

New guidance that clearly sets out the unique and specialist role of social work is being launched today by The College of Social Work on World Social Work Day.

The Advice Note ‘Roles and Functions of Social Workers in England’, produced in consultation with social workers, employers and other professionals provides clarity about the specific expertise that social workers bring to the diverse contexts in which they work. The guidance will assist the profession, employers, and people who use services in knowing what social workers do, what can be expected of them, and how and when their expertise should be used.

Chair of The College of Social Work Jo Cleary said: “Social workers work with people in varied settings, undertaking a range of different roles to help children, adults and families have better lives. Within this, there are core roles, tasks and responsibilities for which they have specific responsibility and expertise.”

“When arranging support for people who lack mental capacity, assessing the suitability of people to foster or adopt, or helping children who have been neglected or abused, social workers have an essential and unique role to play. This guidance specifies the distinctive contribution of the social work profession within all settings and situations. It details the core roles and functions, which with their specialist knowledge and expertise, social workers should always undertake.”

The Advice Note sets out five types of situations where social workers’ specific expertise may be required. It details when and where the specialist knowledge and training of social workers should be used, and what employers and service users can expect from social workers.

Jo Cleary said: “This guidance will be hugely important in enabling employers to gain an in-depth understanding of the role of social work. We hope it will encourage consistency in the deployment of social worker expertise across the public, voluntary and private sectors. Well trained, skilled social workers are an essential resource for managing the most sensitive, complex and high risk individual and family situations. This guidance will help employers make best use of social workers and the specialist skills they bring to their work.”

“This document clearly defines the professional role of social work and how social work skills should be used. The College of Social Work believes that this is an important milestone for the profession and we are proud to be launching our Advice Note on World Social Work day.”

Download The College of Social Work’s ‘The Roles and Functions of Social Workers in England: Advice Note’