Public criticism of social workers following the death of Baby P is having a “highly damaging” impact on recruitment, the Local Government Association has said.
An LGA survey highlights how 57% of councils in England have found recruiting children’s social workers more difficult in the past six months.
Problems expected to deepen
A further 38% have found it harder to retain children’s social workers in the past six months, while 40% expect recruitment in this area to become even more difficult in the next six months.
Margaret Eaton, chairman of the LGA, said the media vilification of the profession following the Baby P case at the end of last year had been “highly damaging” to recruitment and retention.
Problems focused on safeguarding
She expressed concern that most of the difficulties were centred in child protection.
“The way in which the profession has been attacked over recent months has had a highly damaging effect on councils’ ability to get the expert staff they need to protect children at risk,” she said.
Councils “not attracting high-calibre staff”
Eaton added: “There are real difficulties for councils in recruiting and retaining high-calibre social worker staff…being a child social worker is among the toughest jobs in Britain but it is vital that the profession is seen as attractive, as well as challenging.”
The LGA’s findings were taken from an online survey of 56 councillors in charge of children’s services in English local authorities.
Vacancies – 13% rate in children’s services
It follows last month’s Community Care investigation which found 13% of children’s social work posts in England were vacant – marginally higher than the 12.1% rate in adult services.
Community Care has launched a campaign, Stand Up Now for Social Work, to address the poor public standing of the profession following the adverse media coverage in the last six months. Find out how you can support it by visiting our campaign homepage.
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