A consumer study of young people's views on their educational social worker: Engagement as a measure of an effective relationship
Journal: British Journal of Social Work
This, the first ever consumer study of education social workers (ESWs), uses qualitative material and quantitative analysis by examining the views of 110 users of a county ESW service. Most pupils belonged to families with long-standing disadvantage; e.g. 53 per cent had unemployed fathers; over 70 per cent had parents with disturbed personal and social relationships, 39 per cent had a single parent; 30 per cent plus had mental health problems; and 10 per cent of parents had been in care as children, i.e. more than ten times the national average.
The young people also had considerable disruption in their lives: for example 78 per cent frequently missed school; over 50 per cent had school and peer difficulties; 30 per cent offended; over 30 per cent experienced bullying; 5 per cent were the subject of child protection enquiries, 10 per cent had previously been in care and 2 per cent had had an incident of ‘attempted suicide’ (50 times the national rate). They averaged six major difficulties each.
Despite these antecedents, 91 per cent of the young people demonstrated an ‘engaged’ relationship with their social work trained ESW, with many examples of practical psychosocial help being received. The concept of ‘engaged’ was statistically validated in the comparison of views between the ‘engaged’ and ‘non-engaged’ research participants. The results indicate the value and effectiveness of a supportive rapport/relationship as a vehicle to reach and to be of practical assistance to disturbed and disturbing young people.