5a. Reclaiming social work in Hackney

Presented by
Isabelle Trowler, Assistant Director
Children’s Social Care
A casual culture – The problem with
social work
A lack of confidence, expertise and gravitas
Calibre of social work graduates and training curriculum
Bureaucracy – the unintended consequences
The need for professional behaviours and creative and independent
Reclaiming Social Work – Different ways of thinking and doing
Moving the money around
The Social Work Unit
The Social Work Unit
How It Works
• Weekly case review
• Supervision arrangements
• Devolved decision making (matrix of responsibility)
• Direct work
Direct Work - Systemic Approach
• LAC Therapy and Duty Services
• Children are part of a wider system comprising many
relationships, we will engage with the system of concern
• There are multiple points of influence within a system
• Foster carers, health and school professionals are part
of the child’s system as much as friends, parents and
• There are multiple perspectives to problems, this
complexity is a strength
• A conceptual framework – thought, language, behaviour
• Think about everything all the time
Direct Work – Social Learning Theory
Evidence Based Intervention
– Incredible Years (Early Intervention Parenting Programme (3-13))
– Mellow Babies (EIPP)
– Fostering Changes/Strengthening Families (3-13;12-16)
– Parenting Positively and other individually tailored parenting
interventions supported through group supervision and case
consultation (Lead Psychologist)
– Psychology-led parent and child assessments
– Going to scale
The Social Work Unit
Whole scale change, no
quick fixes, prescriptive
methodology, savings
invested, visible and
consistent leadership
Shared Values
Keeping families together safely
Minimum state intervention
Respectful and decisive practice
Emotional and organisational warmth
A political perspective on disadvantage
Shared responsibility and confidence
Simple and flexible,
family focused, telling
the story
IFT, Tavistock, De Montfort, Kent,
Middlesex, LSE Motivating and intellectually
stimulating – a critical mass
Finding a complimentary skill
set, recruitment and ownership,
our most valuable resource
Privileging the voices of
children and families, strengths
and solutions, expert in child
protection; danger of
Organisational Culture
Reflective learning and skill development
- Openness and support (anyone can make a mistake)
- Most importantly the re-establishment of the primary focus on
social work on the family
Critical reflection is well understood and specifically applied
Systematic recovery from error and protection for the
organisation of its most serious consequences
Social Work Processes
Better decision making
Reflective practice encouraged and enabled
Skill mix brings new perspectives
Improved interaction with families and professionals
Better consistency and continuity of care
Reduction of constraints on practice
Burden of administration on practice significantly reduced
• Positive benefits for other professionals and families
- better communications
- strong reliable delivery of information
• Value for money
- 5% reduction in overall cost
- Reduction(470 to 270) of looked after children
- Very low numbers of children in
residential care
- Over 50% reduction in sickness levels
- Reduction of agency staff (50% to 7%)
• Strong performance indicators
How We Did It
Relentless in our pursuit
Major attention to detail
Constant feedback (open communications)
Holding the line
The art of compromise vs the danger of compromise
Risk management - safe uncertainty
What To Do Next
• Knowing
• Where excellence is found, systemise it and share it
• Learn from mistakes
• Disturbance and surprise
• Total football
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