Should There Be Closer Links Between Social Services and Schools? Social services are there to provide assistance to adults and children in the UK who need help the most, in almost all welfare regards. The rapidly increasing numbers of referrals for children’s services, however, have left these vital services in a crisis state. Local authority support is in exceptional demand, with 87% of councillors saying that the need for services has increased in recent years.
With social services under pressure, could establishing a closer link between social services and schools be the solution needed to solve the problem?
The Growing Problem of In-Demand Social Services
The problems that children are facing today are showing no signs of disappearing, in fact, they seem only to be getting worse. A recent study has revealed that 4.5 million children in the UK are living in poverty, with 12% of the whole population living in persistent poverty. Over the next five years, the number of children that are living in poverty is estimated to increase to 5.2 million – a record number.
Many schools around the country have already stepped up to help students that are the most vulnerable, acting as almost an entirely new social department. In some areas of the country, schools have taken on the mantle of ‘mini-welfare states’. Results of the 2015 family survey, from The National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), show that 84% of schools now offer additional services.
Around the country, schools are stepping in to provide basic welfare services to students. At the time of the NAHT survey, 1 in 3 schools had to help students with personal hygiene and 1 in 4 had to provide clothes washing facilities. Schools were also providing students with food before and after school. Now, four years later, the problem is even greater with an increasing number of students facing problems.
Cleanliness and nutrition are not the only ways that schools have become responsible for helping students. More and more schools are having to make mental health referrals. Yet only around 1 in 4 under-18s receive the support they need from the NHS. Currently, the link between identification and action is not up to scratch.
Creating a Strong Link Between Schools and Social Services
Establishing better links between schools and social services is one answer to the growing crisis of services needed vs services provided. Schools are already on the frontline, caring for their students, but stronger links could increase response times from local authorities. This could help to solve the problem of the thousands of children being denied access to mental health treatment or waiting up to 6 months for treatment.
Better links could also improve parental involvement and increase expectations of parents. Parents will be much better positioned to seek out help by contacting the school, who would be able to facilitate the support for students in trouble. With schools having better access to support, expectations of parents to provide good care for their children would increase, as children experiencing problems would be easier to identify.
Only by owning the problem of the lack of social service resources and building a greater link between schools and social services, can more children and families get the help they desperately need.
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