BASW conference: Practitioners sceptical about Derbyshire reform

A groundbreaking reorganisation of children’s social work teams at Derbyshire Council has met with a mixed response from social workers, a senior manager said this week.

The council is one of 11 local authorities piloting the Children’s Workforce Development Council’s remodelling social work delivery project, whose objectives include improving retention of experienced staff, increasing contact time with children and families, and promoting early intervention.

However, the British Association of Social Workers England conference in Derby heard some social workers were sceptical about the reforms.

Bringing services closer to families

Derbyshire is seeking to bring services closer to families with new community outposts staffed by small teams of professionals.

Seven social workers and two managers are attempting to tackle social isolation within the county’s rural population with the aid of technology such as laptops and ‘digital pens’.

Staff in the new outposts – in Matlock, Darley Dale and Ashbourne, with more to be confirmed – will enjoy additional support from social work assistants, who will work on less complex cases, administration assistants and care workers.

However, although partner agencies and managers have been “overwhelmingly positive” about the results of the first few months, some social workers remain sceptical, the conference heard this week.

‘Been here before’

Jane Parfrement, deputy assistant director of children’s services at the council, said: “They have said ‘this has all been here before, and if you stick around long enough it will come round again’.”

Parfrement said some practitioners would take time to adapt to new technology.

But she stressed that the objectives of the CWDC project had already been identified as priorities within Derbyshire Council.

Music to our ears

Nushra Mansuri, professional officer for BASW England, said the progress being made at Derbyshire Council was “music to our ears as social workers”.

The pilots, launched in April, will run until March 2011, when the CWDC will evaluate their success on a number of indicators, including outcomes for children and families.

Related articles

Children’s teams split into ‘pods’ to increase contact

More information

Remodelling Social Work – information on the CWDC website

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