Work conducted by social workers before cases reach court is frequently ignored, a council has claimed.
In a new report, Barking and Dagenham Council in East London claims reluctance to accept such work caused delays in care proceedings, blaming these for its failure to meet government-prescribed timetables.
The report declares:
“Work undertaken prior to a court hearing in line with good practice, that is, pre–proceedings work expected of social workers, [is] being marginalised by the court. The court then requests further assessments to be done – this is also costly as well as adding delay.”
Judges are too ready to order additional independent social work assessments, the council complains, if parents or lawyers question the pre-proceedings work carried by its own social workers.
According to a report on CommunityCare, the average time between a child entering the care system within the Borough and finding an adoptive family was 721 days: nearly 300 days more than the government’s timetable. The average time required to match a child with prospective adopters also exceeds the timetable: by no less than 188 days.