Birmingham City Council is considering introducing the London Borough of Hackney model of social work teams headed up by consultant social workers to try and turn its troubled children’s social care department around.
The news came after the council appointed Len Clarke as an executive member for its troubled children’s social care department.
Clarke, who helped write the critical internal report of the department last year, will report directly to cabinet member Les Lawrence and will work with the director of children’s services, Colin Tucker.
He said they had already made progress in terms of the city’s children’s homes provision and it was now time to address “some of the systemic stuff”.
“We need to ask the question why has Birmingham consistently scored poorly on inspection reports despite all our resources and additional resources being pumped into the department? We need to remodel so our children’s services are more resilient. In the current era it will also have to be affordable.”
He said at the moment they were grappling with how much resources the introduction of such a system would cost as well as maintaining funding to its 15-year Brighter Futures prevention agenda.
Clarke said he hoped the Hackney model would help address Birmingham’s problem with social worker absenteeism.
“The current model is too tolerant of absenteeism so I think the key is to no longer have cases allocated to one social worker but to have a team on each case, with extra administration support to help free up those social workers to spend more time at the frontline.”
He said he hoped to have proposals to discuss with unions by the Autumn and something finalised to introduce by the start of the next financial year.
“We also need to improve our fostering and adoption provision and reduce the numbers of children’s going into children’s homes. A lot of councils do better in this area than we do so there’s definite scope for improvement for us,” he said.