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Essay: How changing laws, policies and economical ideologies impact on social work practice

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  • How changing laws, policies and economical ideologies impact on social work practice
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In this assignment I will be exploring ways in which changing laws, policies and economical ideologies impact on social work practice and service users. The tension this creates between public servants, service users, local authorities and government. I will be focusing on the effectiveness of child protection intervention, safeguarding and assessment between in the UK and comparing it with Sweden.

The British Welfare State in 1948 was influenced by a number of policies and serious case reviews. The Beveridge Report identified ‘five evils’ which were affecting the current welfare state: want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness (Jones and Lowe, 2002). In 1945, Dennis O’Neil was a child in care who experienced abuse resulting in his death. An inquiry was undertaken known as the Curtis Committee Report (1946 cited in Winter, 2011, p11), This focused on the contribution towards the child’s death. The Curtis Committee Report (1946) found a large number of professionals who were working with children did not have specialised practice training. The report found that due to lack of training children were not placed into appropriate care, therefore neglecting their needs. Younghusband (1947 cited in Bamford, 2015, p.21) recognised that social work practice had limited trained staff on the frontline, the report proposed a course, where core subjects of social work principles and practice should be taught, with the option of specialisation.
There was also failing in which people representing the local authority had no relationship with the children, it recommended that those who work with the children from the local authority should be more like friends and support children up to the age of 16, Curtis Committee (1946:147, p.445 cited in Winter, 2011, p.11). This criticism of social services alongside the report instigated The Children Act 1948 (Parrott, 2003).The government’s response to this was to introduce Social Security, National Health Service, Social Services, Housing, Education and Employment (Jones and Lowe, 2002). They believed that a service should be provided free at the point of delivery, aiming to provide all citizens with an equal minimum standard of care. This was a collectivist approach to managing the welfare state of the country at the time.

A collective perspective views that social problems reflect the socioeconomic state of the country and believing that wealth should be distributed to reduce inequalities and to support people (Davies, 2004). This would be financially supported by the introduction of taxation on people that worked called National Insurance. Through providing this service the government was a demonstration to the public that it was taking responsibility for maintain a minimum standard of care (Turbett et al., 2014).

Subsequently, these reports were the driving factor for The Children Act 1948, the first piece of legislation which endorsed working with families and recognising social work as a professionally (Pierson, 2012). However Butler and Hickman,( 2011) argues that this legislation simply implies preservation and prevention work with families. Each local authority then created a children officer in charge of managing the public child care and social work with children. Previous to The Children Act 1948 was The Poor Law (1834 cited in Dean, 2013, p171), which had limited regulations with regards to children and the responsibility the state had towards minors. Currently parental responsibility is shared between the parents and local authority under section 33(4) Children Act 1989, but the local authority may only exercise its power when safeguarding or promoting the child’s welfare (Brayne, Carr and Goosey, 2015).

In the youth of social work there was growing concerns about the overlapping or gaps in social work (Rogowski, 2010). The release of the Seebohm Report (1968) stated that social work practice had become ‘symptom centred’ and proposed that social work departments come together practicing ‘family centred’ approach (Community Care, 2005). This approach contributed towards a generation of general social workers who practiced in certain areas or ‘patches’ (Sayer, 2008). This meant that the social workers would work with the whole family and work with a wide range of human complexities (Higham, 2006). Parker, (2015) suggests the reorganisation of social service was implemented to try and save money. The image of generic social work departments and practice would have it weaknesses exposed by up to 30 child deaths by the non-specialised approach adopted by local authorities (Community Care, 2005). This shift in social work practice did not last for long as the Social Services Act 1970 introduced individualised departments for adults, children and older people, (Dickens, 2010)

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