Press Release

New Package for Social Care Professionals

 

  • Increase in the pay scale of a child care worker by an average of £3,500 p.a.
  • Additional 68 social worker training places to be created, starting this year
  • Funding for new grade to support social workers in getting extra practice placements
  • Fundamental review of training available to child care workers in Ireland. All those in post without a formal qualification will be facilitated to become professionally qualified
  • Children´s Research Centre at Trinity College now engaged in examining models of education and training in other countries, and to make recommendations in relations to these models

The Minister for Children, Mary Hanafin T.D., has today (Friday, April 27, 2001) identified a number of measures which are being implemented to significantly improve employment conditions for social care professionals in Ireland.

Addressing the annual conference of the Irish Association of Social Workers in Cavan, the Minister said: “Whilst the largest ever study on the Irish child care system, launched this week, contained some very positive results, it has, nevertheless, been clear that certain fundamental problems have existed in the child care system for some time.”

The Minister added that one of the issues of greatest concern over the past number of years has been the difficulty experienced by agencies in recruiting and maintaining staff in the area of child care.

Following on from an Expert Group report in April of last year, a Joint Committee representing the Department of Health and Children, employers and IMPACT, was established to look at issues relating to child care workers. Good progress has been made to date, and the Committee has agreed a number of measures which are now being put in place to counteract some of the difficulties.

“For example, the pay scale of a child care worker has been increased by an average of £3,500 per annum. A National Forum for Social Workers has also been established, and its work has resulted in an additional 68 training places being put in place to increase the numbers of social workers on the ground. Funding has also been secured to create a new grade of social work practice placement co-ordinator. This is being implemented to support the work of social workers which will ease the pressure they often experience due to heavy caseloads,” the Minister explained.

Minister Hanafin said the Social Services Inspectorate had highlighted the fact that some child care workers in residential centres, for example, did not hold relevant child care worker qualifications.

“The Government remains committed to ensuring that all those currently in post without a formal qualification will be facilitated to become professionally qualified,” she added.

A fundamental review of the training available to child care workers is being undertaken to ensure that the training received adequately prepares staff for the challenges of working in the area of child care.

The Children´s Research Centre at Trinity College has recently begun examining models of education and training in other countries, and will be making recommendations in relations to these models.

“It is very encouraging to see that, of the social workers to recently qualify, a large majority (71.1%) have chosen to work in the area of child care. This positive statistic is certainly something that we can build further upon with the new improvements in employment conditions for social workers,” the Minister said.

“The protection and welfare of children can be greatly enhanced by employing greater numbers of well-qualified staff who recognise the needs of children and their families.”

In conclusion, Minister Hanafin encouraged social workers at today´s conference to work in closer co-operation with other professionals, and also urged them to listen more to the views of children:

“Given that children and their families have such a wide range of needs, maximum co-operation is required between social workers, public health nurses, doctors, hospitals and the Gardaí. As children are the vulnerable victims of abuse, it is their views that need to be understood and taken into account, when decisions are being made about them,” Minister Hanafin said.