The Children and Social Work Act 2017 was granted Royal Assent on Thursday 27 April 2017. This means that the Act can now be used by the next government to start to bring about the changes outlined in it, including progressing the establishment of a new regulator for social workers in England.
The Act sets out that the new regulator will be called Social Work England and will set standards for social workers and ensure public protection. It will be accountable to both the Department for Education and the Department of Health and will be overseen by the Professional Standards Authority.
The HCPC responded to the proposals to have them replaced by saying:
We were very surprised by the announcement today that it is the Government’s intention to set up a new body for social work in England, which over time, will replace the Health and Care Professions Council as the regulator.
We are an efficient and effective regulator with robust regulatory processes and standards for conduct, education and professional skills. We will continue to fulfil our primary aim of public protection by regulating the 16 health and care professions on our Register.
We look forward to seeing the detail of this decision and will work closely with Government as they bring forward any necessary legislation to facilitate this change.
Nicky Morgan the Secretary of State for Education gave the following statement to the House of Commons explaining her reasoning:
I am today announcing a series of changes that will radically transform the children’s social care system.
Social workers change lives. They have the ability not just to improve the circumstances of vulnerable children but to change them, and therefore their futures, entirely. That is why supporting social workers, and giving them the tools they need, is a priority for this Government. We must give every child the best start in life and make sure that every child can fulfil their potential – regardless of the circumstances they were born into. And we must make sure our support for the most vulnerable is at the heart of that commitment.
I am, therefore, announcing that:
- With the support of my colleague the Secretary of State for Health, it is our intention to establish a new regulatory body for social work to drive up standards with a relentless focus on raising the quality of social work, education, training and practice in both children’s and adult’s social work. It will also set standards for training and oversee the rollout of a new assessment and accreditation system for children and family social workers. Over time, it will become the new regulatory body for social work, in place of the Health and Care Professions Council. It is our intention to bring forward any necessary legislation when parliamentary business allows.
- We want to raise the quality of social work and overhaul social worker education and practice to improve the recruitment, retention and development of social workers. We are doing this by providing definitive statements on the knowledge and skills that social workers should have and display at three important levels, Approved Child and Family Practitioner; Practice Supervisor and Practice Leader and we are rolling out a national, practice-focused, career pathway through the development of an assessment and accreditation system based on the highest levels of skill and knowledge. Schemes like Teach First have helped transform teaching into one of the most prestigious and high status professions in the country, and we must now do the same for social work. And that is why we will be investing a further £100m into Frontline, and into our specialist course, Step-up.
- I am also granting three further councils – Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Islington – freedoms to innovate, to improve frontline children’s social work and to develop new systems of delivering social care and trialling new ways of working with families. These new councils will join the six areas that are already part of the programme, as announced by the Prime Minister in December last year – North Yorkshire, the Tri-borough authorities (Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Kensington & Chelsea), Leeds, Durham and Richmond and Kingston.
- In addition, Government funding of up to £20 million will be made available for a new ‘What Works Centre’, with the aim of making sure social workers and others across the country are able to learn from the very best examples of frontline social work. The new centre will run from later in the year.
Supporting social workers, and giving them the tools they need, is a priority for this Government and a personal priority for me as Secretary of State. These reforms are about getting it right for social workers, so that social workers can get it right for our most vulnerable children and families.
Copies of my speech and the paper Children’s social care reform – A vision for change will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
You can read her children’s social care reform written statement here:
Children’s Social Care Reform:Written statement – HCWS469
We have written about the HCPC and their regulation of Cafcass previously here:
If this leads to more stringent oversight of Cafcass (and other social workers) and their professionalism, training, and impact on the lives of children involved in Family Law then this can only be a good thing.
In a Family Law system designed for combative parents there is no real allowance for the views of children and any understanding of how Family Law ultimately impacts on children most of all.
We speak for the children in Family Law so that, finally, the children have a voice.