WhingeFest 2012

Morale among social workers has been driven to rock bottom by…

Persistent failure to get to grips with serious cases resulting in death of ghildren? The high-profile managers exposed as less use than chocolate teapots? The overweening ‘don’t rock the boat’ attitude of senior management?

Well, no. You might as well expect fish to be driven to rock bottom by water.

cuts, targets and ministers making the issue of race and adoption a “political football”, according to the biggest professional association.

Who couldn’t see that one coming?

Nushra Mansuri, of the British Association of Social Workers, is expected to criticise the education secretary Michael Gove, who accused social workers of condemning black and Asian children to a life in care rather than see them adopted by white couples…”We are angry being misrepresented in this way,” said Mansuri, who speaks for 14,000 social workers. “It is easy to talk about children in care who need to be with loving families and we are concerned about that. But we also know that only a minority can be adopted.”

Oh, really? But you’ll do anything to get that minority adopted, even if it means lying to the adoptive parents

Sally Baffour, a black adoptive mother and a former government adviser who was for six years a trustee of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, said: “There are going to be cavalier decisions made. If it is possible to make a quick match and take the pressure off, why keep looking for a better one?

Well, indeed, Sally, and with regards to ‘damaged children’, you’ve clearly made that decision already, haven’t you?

And don’t seem to have a problem with it.

Marlene Ellis, a black Londoner raised for 18 years by white foster parents in the home counties, said the complexities should not be underestimated. “It is impossible to come out really clear and comfortable about who you are in a society that still has very clear classifications for race and culture,” she said. “My parents did the best they could do but there are subtle things that happen that erode your confidence. My real memory is loneliness; of not knowing.”

But that’s just your experience.

Others have quite a different one. A more positive one. So…why do they never get to be government advisers?

But minsters can say, with justification, that some social work professionals and trans-racial adoptees fully back the government’s stance on race and adoption. Jo Bonnett, a black police officer raised in rural Leicestershire and east London by white English adoptive parents, is one of them. “I didn’t find it a negative experience,” she says “I think I was very lucky. I had an older brother who was their birth son; a brilliant childhood and fantastic friends. My challenges came at 17, but when you get to that age, and have been brought up in a loving household, you are strong enough to deal with racism or any issues you might have.”

Though when you try to give back, you find yourself thwarted:

Bonnett, 40, said she and her husband, who is white, tried themselves to adopt a black child. “But we were told the child must be mixed race. Ridiculous!”

Yes. It clearly is.

And does Mansuri speak for all social workers? It seems not:

Nearly 90% of social workers polled say adoptions take too long. And more than half think it is right to tackle delays caused by caused by ‘excessive emphasis’ on an ethnic match between the child and its adoptive parents.

So why is Mansuri taking this tack? Shouldn’t he ask his union members their opinion?

4 comments for “WhingeFest 2012

  1. john in cheshire
    November 16, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I think we would be better off as a nation if there were no social workers. In fact, every job which contains the word social should be abolished.

  2. B Stoat
    November 16, 2012 at 10:48 am

    When the police doing a drug raid find children in the house, who sorts them out – Social workers. When a schizophrenic mother keeps her children locked in a cupboard and threatens them with a carving knife, who gets called – a social worker. When someone finds an old person starving in a freezing house it’s social workers who try to sort it out.

    Most social workers spend their time trying to deal with people and situations that no one really knows what to do with. In that respect they have something in common with the police. It is usually not simple or pretty and the outcomes are often far from good but they mostly do the best they can with what they have. It is a stressful occupation and no surprise at all that many case workers try to climb into administration as fast as they can.

    Long meetings discussing the niceties of adoption policy certainly beat trying to find accommodation for 3 distressed, starving and filthy children on a Friday afternoon. The ‘higher ups’ will do almost anything to stay away from the sharp end.

    • Jack Savage
      November 17, 2012 at 10:46 am

      ….with a carving knife….

      Har! Your chances of getting a social worker to attend an incident where a carving knife is being wielded are pretty slim, I would suggest!

      Locking people up after drug raids says more about our drug policies than social work policies. Free the weed!

      Having said that…if social workers did not exist we would probably have to invent them.

  3. Tatty
    November 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

    There’s a distinct and puzzling lack of black and minority ethnic families queueing up to adopt their own kind. Especially gay ones.

    They can’t all be fat smokers, surely ?

    Such dire under-representation of black and minority ethnics….along with the life-long disadvantages faces by BME children as a direct result… should have the Diversity Crews champing on the bit to get stuck right in, surely.

    I say let ’em loose. 😐

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