Model of social work celebrates third anniversary

Camden's model of children’s social work, which was praised by Ofsted just over a year ago, has celebrated its third anniversary

The Camden Model of Social Work is a 'systemic' model of social work, based on strong relationships between social workers and families and informed by their experiences. This means that we work with families to find common ground, reaching a fuller understanding of the pressures they are facing and being responsive to them, whilst ensuring positive and timely change for children. 

Our model of practice was created with the help of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, whose experience of working with families in a therapeutic way helped us to look more closely at how we work to ensure we actively listen to children, staff and partners to get the best possible outcomes for our children and families. 

Understanding what works best for parents means they can make any changes needed to improve the lives of their children. The model was praised by Ofsted, who assessed our children’s social care services as ‘good’ in November 2017. Inspectors described Camden as “a dynamic, professionally fertile environment for social workers at all levels of experience to engage with children and families” and said our model of practice encouraged a “learning culture” with “imaginative and bold approaches to assess and support families”. 

Children's social workers, and some staff in adult social care, celebrated the third anniversary of our model of social work last month with the premiere of a new film introducing what this way of working means to staff and families. Staff at the event on 23 January heard from Kevin, a father who appears in the film, about how important it is for families to feel they are being listened to when meeting social workers – and, crucially, when important decisions are being made which affect their family. 

Local parent Kevin (pictured above, far right) said: “What I liked about the social worker I had was that they were always really good at listening. Because he was listening to me, I was listening to him and it helped me. I remember after that, I felt that the sessions with my social worker were an important part of my learning journey in terms of being a good parent.” 

That's also why family group conferences are such an important element of our way of working. This is a meeting where a family can think together about how best to support each other and how we can help them. Ofsted said in their report: “The widespread use of family group conferences is central to a highly participative approach to engaging families, enabling the recovery of fragmented, damaged relationships and building resilience in families, and this is at the heart of the Camden model of social work.” 

A crucial part of the Camden Model of Social Work is finding the balance between formal social work involvement, early intervention and prevention. It is about consistent, transparent relationships between social work services and families – limiting the number of changes of social worker and looking at evidence to make the most effective intervention.

Councillor Angela Mason CBE, Cabinet Member for Best Start in Life
The time that is given to building relationships with children and families, to understand what they need and how we can help them are key in making sure we achieve the best outcomes for children and their families.
Councillor Angela Mason CBE, Cabinet Member for Best Start in Life

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