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Committee hears the need for Social Workers to have family court training

Peers have been told that some social workers ‘lack confidence’ when giving evidence in court.

The views were given in an evidence session of the Children and Families Act 2014 Committee with witnesses citing a lack of continuity as being a key factor often as a result of cases being hit by court delays or where professions have taken sick leave due to job pressures. These barriers often leading to independent social workers who specialise in family law being appointed by the local authority to undertake the assessments needed by the court.

Giving evidence, Director of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, Lisa Harker said: “I think it might be wise to have a look at the training social workers receive. I think there is a surprising lack of fundamental knowledge amongst some social workers about what to expect in some proceedings.”

Adding to this Hannah Markham, QC said:

“Some are more expert and experienced in what they do, others perhaps need far more guidance, training and better legal oversight so that the final evidence they produce for the court is balanced, nuanced, and looks at different aspects of the parenting.”