Nagalro Press Release and Briefing Paper regarding reform of the Child Welfare Reporter Role in Scotland
NAGALRO URGES REFORM OF THE CHILD WELFARE REPORTER ROLE
25 August 2020 - Latest News
1) The amendment to the Children (Scotland) Act re Child Welfare Reports only being authored by registered Social Workers was formally withdrawn by the proposer, Liam McArthur MSP , when it became apparent there would not be sufficient support from other MSPs. In addition Social Work Scotland were not in support of the amendment .
2) The Bill itself was passed with 100% cross party support and now becomes an Act. One of its prime purposes is to incorporate the UNCRC into Scottish law. The Scottish Act now defines, in law 'siblings' as people who share at least one parent with each other.
Nagalro has sent a briefing to the Scottish government urging it to review the role and qualifications of child welfare reporters in disputes between parents about their children. Nagalro argues that the ‘laudable’ reforms in the Children (Scotland) Bill, currently being debated by MSPs, mean that the role of CWR is now much more complex and demanding and that Scottish children deserve to have access to qualified and experienced social workers to help them make their wishes and feelings known to the court.
In England and Wales, Family Court Advisers, who carry out a comparable role to the CWR, are all social workers with at least 3 years’ experience of work with children and families. Nagalro urges the Scottish government to ensure that children in Scotland have the benefit of access to similar experts.
In the briefing document, the Chair of Nagalro, Sukhchandan Kaur says:
‘We do not doubt that those who currently fill this role aim to discharge the task to the best of their abilities. However, the nature and complexity of the issues coming before the courts have increased beyond anything which could have been foreseen twenty-five years ago. As a result, the training and experience in safeguarding required of those carrying out these tasks have changed. The reforms contained within this Bill will add significant further layers to the complexity and demands of the child welfare reporter’s role. We would contend that the point has now been reached where those duties can only be carried out by experienced social workers and that, without this, the intentions of the Bill are likely to be frustrated.’
In Scotland, the role of child welfare reporter is open to a range of professionals who may not have a social work background and is usually discharged by an independent solicitor. As Scotland works to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law, Nagalro has advised Ministers that the questions to be considered and the advice needed by Sheriffs dealing with these cases is changing and the child’s needs can only be met by experienced social workers undertaking this role.
Liberal Democrat MSP, Liam McArthur, is to table an amendment in the Stage 3 debate on the Bill which would make it a legal requirement for child welfare reporters to be registered social workers. The amendment is also supported by the Scottish Association of Social Workers who have expressed concern about the quality of the reports which are currently being produced to assist the court making decisions about the children of separated parents having contact with parents with whom they do not live.
For further please information contact Nagalro Office:
Karen Harris, Principal Administrator, firstname.lastname@example.org, 01372 818504
Notes to Editors:
- Nagalro is the professional association for Family Court Advisers, Children’s Guardians and Independent Social Workers. Its members, who are based throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland, represent the interests of children in a range of public and private law proceedings. Nagalro members are senior, highly experienced children and family social workers who work in a variety of roles. Many work as independent social workers and risk assessors providing expert witness reports in a wide range of complex cases coming before the family courts; in fostering and adoption agencies; in independent practice providing therapeutic services; as academics; as supervisors, mentors and consultants. Members have significant experience as managers, chairs of Adoption Panels and other specialist social work practitioner roles.
- The Nagalro website is at www.nagalro.com