Children and Families Social Work Deemed Less Important in Survey
A survey conducted by Comres for LGA assessed public opinion on which sectors should receive more public spending, and which they deemed most important. Children and families social work scored relatively low in the list of public priorities.
In a list of public sectors which the public considered "frontline services" Children and Families social work was rated eighth. Even amongst other social care sectors, it fell beneath social services for the elderly and for disabled people.
Generally, male and female respondents agreed on what they considered important sectors, but interestingly there was a substantial difference with regards to social work. The greatest discrepancy was in children and families social work, with 10% fewer men regarding it as a frontline service.
The sectors which scored highly were Police, Fire Service and Hospital Staff, all of whom deal immediately in emergency situations. Therefore their importance is felt more urgently. Perhaps the reason why social work is not given high priority is because public awareness of what social work achieves is quite low. Because social workers aim to prevent harmful situations it is difficult for people to grasp the importance of their role within society.
Another reason why children and families social work scored low may be a result of the fact that it deals with a minority of society. The work of the emergency services and healthcare in general affects everyone in a much more immediate way. This may also explain why care for the elderly scored higher than other divisions of social work.
The fact is however, that tens of thousands of children owe their lives toqualified social workers. In the long run their work reduces crime figures and eases the pressure on health services. Their work also gives people in the lowest ebbs of society a chance to pull themselves out of destructive circumstances.
Social Care Recruitment is in crisis and efforts have been made to improve the situation and encourage more people to become qualified social workers. But for as long as the fundamental attitudes to social work don't change social workers will continue to be undervalued for their important contribution to society.