Social workers across Scotland are struggling to balance childcare with support and protection work due to recent changes to government guidance, says the Scottish Association of Social Work.
The revised guidance, published in the middle of January, states that key workers with a non-key worker partner also working from home do not meet the criteria for childcare provision, with many social workers falling into this category.
Alison Bavidge, national director of the Scottish Association of Social Work, said: ‘In recent weeks, we have had increasing reports from members who are struggling to support the vulnerable people they work with due to being unable to access adequate childcare.
‘The social work profession spans children and families, adults, and justice services. The role involves having difficult, private conversations that may include content around sexual offending, addiction, and suicide.
‘Our work is based on the relationships we build with people which need focus and real concentration when face to face, but virtual meeting spaces require social workers to listen and engage even more intensely.
‘Confidentiality for people using services and the risk of social workers’ children hearing inappropriate material need to be properly considered.
‘Whilst challenging at the best of times, social work becomes nigh impossible when having responsibilities for childcare and homeschooling at the same time.’
The Association are seeking an exemption for social workers from the two key worker rule, to enable them to carry out this complex work without the risks associated with having children or young people present.
The concerns are shared with former social worker and Coatbridge and Chryston MSP, Fulton MacGregor, who is raising the issue with the Scottish Government.
Mr MacGregor, said: ‘As a former social worker, I completely sympathise with how challenging it would be to undertake such complex, emotive work with young children present.
‘I am therefore taking the matter to government to consider the possibility of a necessary exemption for social work practitioners.’
A Scottish government spokesperson said it is working towards a phased re-opening of schools and childcare.
‘The health and wellbeing of our children and young people is our top priority and we don’t want remote learning to continue for any longer than necessary.
‘That is why we are prioritising schools and childcare for full re-opening.
‘Schools and early learning and childcare settings are working towards a phased return on February 22, subject to review on February 16 and the continued progress in suppressing the virus.
‘Until full re-opening, local authorities remain the key decision-makers for families who require access for a child to attend their school or childcare setting. They are operating within a framework agreed with Scottish government and must be free to take decisions at a local level.
‘It is, however, essential that right now we do everything we can to reduce transmission of the virus, and that means keeping interactions between different households to an absolute minimum.’
Photo Credit – Pixabay