Social workers' status suffers after Baby P

Wednesday 25 March 2009 11:48

The public's opinion of social workers has fallen in the wake of the death of Baby P, a survey said today.

The ComRes poll for the Local Government Association (LGA) found 42 per cent of people said their view of social workers had got worse since the death of the 17-month-old north London toddler.

The LGA said the findings reinforced fears that councils would have problems in recruiting and holding onto children's social workers.

Two-thirds of councils said they were having problems employing new staff and four in 10 said they had difficulties holding onto them.

"There are real difficulties for councils in recruiting and retaining high calibre child worker staff," said Margaret Eaton, the LGA chairman.

"There should be a long term commitment by all those who support social workers to prove to people that we now need them more than ever if we are to protect children from abuse at the hands of dangerous individuals."

Baby P died at the hands of his mother, her partner and their lodger, despite being on Haringey Council's "at risk" register.

The death led to a nationwide review of child protection which recommended that overstretched children's social workers should be given extra training to address problems in the system.

Last year, 55 children were killed by parents or someone they knew while 200,000 children in England are believed to live in homes where there is a high risk of domestic abuse and violence.

According to the poll, 78 per cent of people said they would support more resources being given to children's social services.

Furthermore 62 per cent of the 1,005 questioned thought friends, family and neighbours rather than the state should have the most responsibility in protecting a child at risk.

Eaton, who is hosting a conference on child protection today, said being a child social worker was one of the hardest jobs in Britain.

"The recent sad events of Baby P shine a light on the onerous responsibility councils bear in working with the most vulnerable children and families, and the equally onerous responsibility we ask children's social workers to carry on our behalf," she said.

"It is a tough job to do and for councils it is the toughest job to fill."

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