***After writing this post I noticed that this years Troubled Families Conference has a session on the Role of the Social Worker. One can only hope that this is recognition and understanding of the role Social Work has played in administering this agenda. I also hope that it means the end of this need to highlight the perceived failings of the profession. However, this is still a matter I want brought to light because it needs to end.***
Those who have it don’t need to talk about it. This makes me question Louise Casey’s need to compare and use her program to bash social work. If your program and its results are as legitimate and valid as they should be, comparison to any others would be unnecessary. Yet you continue to use your speeches, where I have been in the audience, to bash social workers even after saying that it was not your intention to do so. I fear now, the government allowing you to be a part of another campaign that further tarnishes the reputation of social work will only make this worse. A true leader need not tarnish their image or credibility by condemning others. They are able to stand on their laurels and the strength of their own abilities. You may say there are exceptions but making broad negative generalizations about a profession is not only offensive it is unwise and unnecessarily damaging. I genuinely believe that, due to the systems through which society run, there will always be need for social workers. Until the world is rescued and healed from age-ism, racism, class-ism, poverty, injustice etc., there will always be a place for a skilled helping profession. There are issues, systemic and developmental, that need to be addressed. However, hinging your arguments about the authenticity of outcomes from your program on the real and perceived failings of social work is a rookie tactic. An experienced leader and professional can substantiate outcomes using the outcomes themselves. Stop attacking my profession. I am highly trained and highly committed to my profession and the populations I have served. I give my all and am not afraid to buck the system to get my clients what they need and there are many like me. We already have a public image issue; we certainly don’t need your help.
I believed in the troubled families agenda from the outset because I saw it as a return to grassroots social work. I thought it would take us back to when social workers had the time to walk clients through change as the change agents they are. I didn’t see it as a rival to social work, but recognition that we need to remember and engage our roots, working more closely with the community instead of being overwhelmed and overtaken by bureaucracy. There are many social workers out there working to make your vision a reality and it is insulting that you continue to feel the need to remind the nation of the profession’s inadequacies. I find it especially disheartening since I know for a fact that the regulating body of this program is aware that many are implementing this program in a business as usual model. That is, they aren’t doing anything new and are getting the results and funding using outcomes from already established interventions – which include social care and other programs/teams made up of social workers. This program isn’t new. It isn’t innovative and it isn’t clever. It has just given the social workers and others who are working within, the freedom and TIME they need to make the greatest impact by freeing them up from bureaucratic limitations.
Social Work is not your enemy. On the contrary, in addition to family support workers and others (and the skills they use are the root and base of what social work is about), social workers are helping to make these outcomes happen. Whatever your personal biases, recognise that some of the outcomes that make this program look good have been supported and made possible by social workers and find another way to legitimize it. Because comparing it to social work, it’s old now. It looks vindictive, which diminishes your credibility in the eyes of those who are watching and know how outcomes are really working. It paints your argument as a tool of social work opponents to further discredit the profession, and those of us with the training, skills and depth of insight are getting fed up of the sheer ignorance of it all.