Islanders are being asked to consider a day in the life of a social worker today, as social workers in Jersey and across the world mark World Social Work Day 2014. (Today, Tuesday 18 March).
The day is organised by the International Federation of Social Workers, which is a global organisation raising awareness of social justice, human rights and social development through the promotion of social work.
Locally, social work might be something that the majority of Islanders are unfamiliar with, as the work which goes on with individuals and families is often long term, and due to its nature, is confidential.
Health and Social Services employ around 80 social workers who work with children, adults (under 65s) and older adults (Over 65s) when they need support in a variety of situations. The team of social workers who work for the Children’s Service are based at Le Bas Centre, while the team who support adults and older adults work at Overdale. Social workers are also based in secondary schools.
The teams of social workers who are involved with children in Jersey are divided into:
- The Community Social Work Team
- The 16 Plus Leaving Care Team
- The Complex Needs Team
- The Fostering and Adoption Team
- Children’s Initial Response Team
- The Permanence Planning Team.
“Social work can be a kind of ‘hidden profession’” said Sean Pontin, head of the Children’s Service in Jersey. “Often, social work can be wrongly associated with being the people who take children away, when families are in crisis, and the public are not familiar with the fact that social workers who work with children are often involved at a preventative level, and are focused always on the needs of the child, but, wherever possible, keeping families together. We are there to advocate for the child and always do what is best for the child.”
“Social workers in Jersey are required to have an understanding of the principles underlying the Children (Jersey) Law 2002 and must practice within local statutory and national frameworks, local policy, procedures and guidelines. Social workers need to be autonomous as well as work as part of a multi-agency team. They must be child focused, able to use their integrity, be open-minded, to understand others, be self-assured and a logical thinker.”
Social workers are trained and qualified through university degree programmes in social and psychological sciences. As part of their training they must also complete on the job practice placements in a variety of different settings. Once qualified social workers must register with their professional body and must continue to demonstrate professional competence and ongoing learning and development.
Social workers work alongside other professionals to develop packages of care and protection; colleagues such as police officers, health visitors, psychologists and schools.