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Prime Minister David Cameron's speech this week put child protection at the heart of helping families and extending opportunities to all. This follows on from the government's formation of a ministerial taskforce to ‘clear away the red tape to improve the lives of the country’s most troubled families’.

Supporting social workers on the front line

Cameron emphasised the importance of the government working to support social work professionals on the front line with the acknowledgement that “social workers do a very challenging job...and we need to help them”. This comes in the wake of the announcement to close The College of Social Work (TCSW) in the last week, where feelings are understandably running high.

Frontline, the new equivalent to Teach First was also referred to by Cameron as the vehicle that will “raise the status and standards of the profession”, exact details of which will likely follow in the coming weeks. The intention, in Cameron’s words, is to “recruit the best graduate talent” and to “help good social workers to stay at the frontline, using their professional judgement – not to be promoted away from where they are most needed”.

Troubled Families

In regards to the Troubled Families programme, Cameron reinforced the government’s plans to expand its reach to an additional 400,000 families by 2020. Remarking on the success of the programme to date, he said:
“By radically changing the way we deliver services to the hardest-to-reach families in our country, we have tackled worklessness, addiction, truancy and antisocial behaviour.”

In the last three years, 116,654 families have been turned around, which equates to 99% of those targeted under the Troubled Families programme. In Birmingham 4,000 have been turned around, 2,500 in Kent, 2,300 in Manchester and 1,300 in Bristol.

We're yet to hear exactly how the additional 400,000 families will be reached, but the government’s Troubled Families taskforce has been set-up to track progress in policy implementation and to make sure actions are followed through; a watch-dog in a sense.

More accountability

What has made more of an impact though is Cameron’s focus on “more accountability” to end child abuse and neglect tragedies. He specifically talked about the “government never giving up on its proper responsibilities”. The solution, he said, is not the same for every authority and in some instances it could involve “radical steps to liberate the front line from excessive bureaucracy”. For others, it will mean enabling outside organisations “like charities, trusts and social enterprises to help do the job.”


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