Posts Tagged 'Ray Jones'

How to turn a children’s social services crisis into a catastrophe

Ray Jones

Ray Jones, author of In whose interest?

How to turn a crisis into a calamity and catastrophe?

Well, it is not that difficult as shown by the current state of children’s social services in England. But it does require commitment and continuity over time.

Here’s how to do it.

First, see the banker-created crisis of ten years ago as an opportunity. Blame Labour’s commitment to, and expenditure on, public services such as the NHS, schools and children’s social work for creating the crisis, ignoring that it was reckless and selfish behaviours within the financial private sector which took the UK and others to the economic cliff edge.

“When elected to government continue the script that what is required is a good and lengthy dose of austerity with cuts targeted at poor people and public services.”

Secondly, when elected to government continue the script that what is required is a good and lengthy dose of austerity with cuts targeted at poor people and public services. Keep this narrative going through a friendly media with programmes and news reports about shirkers and skivers and about failing public services and incompetent public servants.

Thirdly, create a self-fulfilling prophecy by cutting funding for public services year on year at a time when families are moving from deprivation to destitution amongst the slicing away of social security benefits so that it becomes harder and harder to provide help for children and families who have been left stranded and neglected by the state. Then ratchet-up the story-line that it is the private sector that is the solution to crumbling public services.

Fourthly, change the legislation so that even very personal services such as children’s social work and child protection can be contracted out to private companies who see this as an opportunity to make money. Their route to generating a profit is by cutting back and down-skilling the workforce, reducing terms and conditions of employment, and asset-stripping by selling off buildings and land. And if it all gets too hot, the international venture capitalists who have now come into this commercial market place of the children’s services ‘industry’ sell on their businesses or just walk away.

This is now the context for statutory children’s services and social work in England. Companies such as G4S, Serco, Virgin Care, Amey and Mouchel have all attended meetings with the Department for Education to work on creating and opening up this market place, and the market analysts Laing Buisson have been commissioned by the government to advise on how to create a privatised market in children’s social services.

“Over 70% of children’s homes in England are owned privately and run to provide a profit.”

And it is already happening. Over 70% of children’s homes in England are owned privately and run to provide a profit. A third of foster care is now provided through for-profit foster care agencies. Almost 20% of children’s social workers working within local authorities are employed through private for-profit employment agencies. And international accountancy firms such as KPMG are now paid by government to shape the future of children’s social services.

Hundreds of millions of pounds every year are being taken as private profit out of the public funding allocated to children’s services, money which should instead be used to help and assist children and families in difficulty and to protect children when necessary.

So a crisis created by the bankers has been used as the context to sustain policies of politically-chosen austerity creating a calamity for public services and a catastrophe for children and families but also profit-opportunities for private companies. And the commitment of the government is to even more cuts in the funding for public services, even more draconian cuts in welfare benefits, and even more privatisation. Absolutely awful, and it is without shame or humanity from those who still use a crisis of 10 years ago to hurt and hinder children today.

 

In whose interest [FC]In whose interest? by Ray Jones is available with 20% discount on the Policy Press website. Order here for £19.99.

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The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blog post authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

World Social Work Day 2015 #WSWD2015: WIN a Policy Press Social Work book of your choice…

Jess-photo

Jessica Miles, Marketing Executive

Today is World Social Work Day and you can follow all the actions and events happening around the world using the hashtag #WSWD2015. This year’s theme is ‘Promoting the Dignity and Worth of Peoples’, something we hope we contribute to, at least in a small way, here at Policy Press.

To celebrate we thought it would be great to find out from you which Policy Press social work title from recent years you’ve most enjoyed. In fact if you email us here with your favourite book and a bit about why you liked it so much, we’ll enter you into our prize draw to win a Policy Press Social Work title of your choice! Just mark your email ‘Happy World Social Work day‘ and send it to us by 5pm on Friday 20th March.

According to our data crunchers our top five best sellers over the past few years are:

The story of Baby PThe story of Baby P: Setting the record straight

by Ray Jones

The first book to tell what happened to ‘Baby P’, how the story was told by the media and its considerable impact on the child protection system in England.

 

Re-imagining child protection [FC]Re-imagining child protection: Towards humane social work with families

by Brid Featherstone, Susan White and Kate Morris

This important book challenges the current child protection culture and calls for family-minded humane practice where children are understood as relational beings, parents are recognized as people with needs and hopes and families as carrying extraordinary capacities for care and protection.

Understanding research for social policy and social work_2nd edn [FC]Understanding research for social policy and social work (2nd edition): Themes, methods and approaches

Edited by Saul Becker, Alan Bryman and Harry Ferguson

This acclaimed international textbook combines theoretical and applied discussions and case examples to provide an essential guide to research methods, approaches and debates.

The short guide to social work [FC]The short guide to social work

by Robert Adams

This one-stop text for new and prospective social work students is easy to read and full of essential information and practical advice about what is needed to qualify and practice in social work.

Communicating with children and young people [FC]Communicating with children and young people: Making a difference

by Michelle Lefevre

This timely book prepares social workers and other practitioners for the challenge of engaging directly with children and young people in order to make a difference to their lives.

 

We’ll also add you to our mailing list so you can be first to know about all our new Social Work books – please do let us know if you’d prefer not to receive these mails but don’t let that stop you from entering the draw! All entries must be entitled ‘Happy World Social Work day‘, emailed to pp-marketing@bristol.ac.uk and received before 5pm on Friday 20th March. The winner will be announced in our newsletter at the end of this month.

We also publish the journal, Critical and Radical Social Work… find out more here.

All these books are, of course, available to buy on our website. Find out more about these and our other titles in social work here. Don’t forget, if you’re a subscriber to the PP newsletter you get 35% discount on all our titles if you order on our website.

Don’t feel left out if you’re not a subscriber – click here to sign up now! We promise never to let anyone else have your details and we’ll only send you two newsletters a month, keeping you up to date with latest title information, special offers, free journal articles and forthcoming events.

Happy World Social Work Day!

Our thanks to our Marketing Executive Jessica Miles, who specialises in Social Work as one of her subject areas, for writing this post. You can follow Jessica on twitter here: @TPPjess

Who protects the protectors? Social workers still ravaged by Baby P media storm

Dr Ray Jones

Guest blogger Ray Jones’ book, ‘The Story of Baby P – Setting the record straight‘ publishes today.  

Ray shares his thoughts on the impact that the media coverage of the ‘Baby P’ case had, and continues to have, on social workers.

 

The ‘early’ release of Jason Owen, convicted for being involved in the death of ‘Baby P’ in 2007, gave the tabloid newspapers a fresh moment of outrage this weekend.

When a little boy dies following horrific abuse from the adults in his household, disbelief and outrage are indeed quite natural human responses. ‘Baby P’, Peter Connelly, was just 17 months old when he died. In November 2009 his mother, her boyfriend, and Jason Owen, the boyfriend’s brother, were each convicted of ‘causing or allowing’ his death.

However the ramifications of the media storm that erupted following these convictions are still being felt in social work circles today.

‘Campaign for justice’

In November 2009 the Sun newspaper and its then editor, Rebekah Brooks, launched a ‘campaign for justice’. The campaign was not about improving and better resourcing child protection services. It was not about tougher sentences for those who abuse children. Instead, it demanded the summary sackings of social workers and their managers, and also of a paediatrician. Police officers who unsuccessfully undertook two prior criminal investigations into Peter’s previous injuries were, however, largely left out of how the story was told, as were the NHS managers who oversaw a paediatric service which was itself in trouble.

The Leveson Inquiry and the recent phone hacking trial have since revealed the powerful networks of relationships between the press, politicians and the police. These powerful relationships, and relationships of power, explicitly and implicitly came into play in how the ‘Baby P’ story was shaped and told.

One person in particular, the Director of Children’s Services in Haringey, became central to the Sun’s vilification and vengeance. Sharon Shoesmith, with the Connelly family’s social workers and their managers, was denigrated and demonised and threatened and traumatised.

The impact of the media’s targeting of those who worked to protect children was, however, much wider than its impact on individuals. In Haringey, and elsewhere, it became difficult to recruit and retain social workers and health visitors to work with children and families and it was difficult to get doctors to work in community paediatric services. So, fewer workers and a less stable workforce.

This created a child protection system which was, and still is, under tremendous pressure

There was also a dramatic surge in the number of child protection concerns passed to those still working at the sharp-end of child protection services. This created a child protection system which was, and still is, under tremendous pressure.

Since the death of ‘Baby P’ and the conviction of his killers, both the former Labour Government and the current Coalition Government have instigated reviews such as the Social Work Task Force and the Munro Review.  Neither has led to major new legislation. Neither promoted more procedures and regulations to standardise practice.

Away from the media spotlight, these reviews were able to give balanced recommendations that called for more professional space and greater recognition for the job of social workers. However, it is now the Government’s intention that child protection be opened up to the market place, and to companies like G4S and Serco, with more fragmentation and instability.

Who knows what impact yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle will have on the outcome of these government intentions.  Who knows when there will be the next media frenzy allocating blame and shame when a child is abused and killed, with vilification and vengeance focused on social workers.

Given the failure so far of the political response to the Leveson Inquiry recommendations to implement a robust system of checks and balances on the media pack, it remains to be seen whether politicians will find within themselves the necessary commitment and courage in the future to confront the media in their heady enthusiasm to identify and oust the latest social worker targeted in a ‘witch hunt’.

Bookshop display Baby PDr Ray Jones is a registered social worker and professor of social work at Kingston University and St George’s, University of London. From 1992-2006 he was director of social services in Wiltshire. He currently oversees child protection in several areas of England previously rated by Ofsted as ‘inadequate’. His book. ‘The Story of Baby P: Setting the Record Straight’, has just been published by Policy Press and can be purchased at a discounted rate from our website.


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