Social Workers Undertrained in effects of Substance Misuse

  • Charity shows that social workers should have compulsory training on substance misuse, and says there are fears they are not given adequate training or management supervision on substance misuse and its impact on parenting.

    These gaps in training and support need to be addressed urgently as more weight is put on their judgement, and substance misuse is a common factor in most cases for social workers.

    The charity Adfam have released a report showing widespread fears that social workers are not given adequate training or effective managerial supervision on substance misuse, in particular with its impact on children and parenting.

     The report highlights that the Munro review of child protection is placing greater emphasis on the professional judgement of front line staff, they will require more information.

    Combined with the safeguarding guidance being given to social workers by the government being dramatically lessened, it may leave them feeling unsupported and isolated when there is a gap in their knowledge when they are being expected to find the right answer and be confident with it.

    Vivienne Evans, chief executive of Adfam, said she understood the caseload pressures faced by social workers, but the gaps in support for staff needed to be addressed urgently, as substance misuse features prominently in the caseloads of many social workers.

    Dr Sarah Galvani, chair of the British Association of Social Workers' special interest group on alcohol and other drugs, said:

    The experience from the DipSW shows that guidance alone doesn't work. It needs strong leadership and creativity within social work education to introduce completely new subjects and find the resources and time on the curriculum to deliver it.

    There are a number of examples of good practice but it is patchy and we know a third of social workers still leave qualifying education without any substance use education."

    Anne Mercer, professional advisor for The College of Social Work, said the college did not support calls for mandatory substance misuse training:

    Social work education covers a very wide and complex amount of learning and tuition and education establishments must be able to manage how this is provided.



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