Social workers across the country face the stress of increasing workloads, with excessive pressure linked to high drop-out rates and the loss of experienced workers from the profession.
But things are different at Rotherham, where social workers can be guaranteed some of the lowest caseloads nationally. Practitioners are only asked to look after between 15 and 20 cases at any one time.
The Commons Education Committee said earlier this month that not enough was being done to solve the “endemic retention problems” in the profession. The committee’s report highlighted how the social work vacancy rate has grown by a quarter since 2014, leaving 17 per cent of jobs unfilled across England. While the average career length for a doctor is 25 years, for a social worker it is less than eight.
But in Rotherham things are changing, making working for the council very appealing. All children’s social work teams have been restructured to allow for more social workers and more team managers. As a result, the council is now recruiting a significant number of social workers to newly created posts. Practitioners will be well paid, well managed and given good development and training.
Deputy leader of Rotherham Council and cabinet member for children and young people’s services, Cllr Gordon Watson, says: “Social work has never been under so much pressure as it is now. With higher caseloads and intense media scrutiny, it is no wonder this is not a job people are choosing to stay in. But there is no doubt that good social work changes lives. I take my hat off to those who work on the frontline of this service. They do an amazing job.
“However, it is clear that if we want to attract and retain the best we can here in Rotherham, then we need to make the package we are offering the best it can be.
“This means lightening the load in terms of cases, restructuring teams and making more out of locality working, so social workers can get a real understanding of the communities they are working in. With all these changes I have no doubt that we can make a real difference to the experiences for our most vulnerable children by making the work life balance of our social workers so much better and attracting the best to come and work here.”
For more information on social work in Rotherham and current job vacancies visit: childrenssocialcarejobs.org.uk/