How has Milton Keynes Council Children’s Social Care achieved 90% permanent social workers?

A feature sponsored by Milton Keynes Council

TEAM PHOTO

This is some of the feedback that our permanent social workers have given that really sets us apart from previous agency workers and from those who have worked for neighbouring boroughs:

• Protected caseloads and independent clinical supervision
• Training available in attachment assessments – Care Index/Meaning of the Child/Story Stems
• Innovative approaches to social work
• Supportive environment with continued learning available
• Career progression, relevant training and development opportunities
• Agile and remote working options either mobile (iPad provided) or from home making the most of technology to work in a more efficient way
• Experienced managers
• Access to additional support provided by a specialist Family Advice Support Team (FAST), which supports the statutory social workers with their tasks. FAST will provide home help services, practical help and monitoring, therapeutic interventions, specialist assessments and intervention 7 days a week, which includes out-of-hours work with families
• Learning not blame culture
• 90% of Milton Keynes staff are permanent social workers

What our social workers say

We recently talked to our social workers and this is what they said:

Vikki Blakeston, Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) manager, says: “I’ve been working at Milton Keynes Council for 30 years and I wouldn’t work anywhere else. When you talk to social workers that come to Milton Keynes from other authorities, and we have many, they say there is a marked difference in the way they are supervised, managed and trained. In Milton Keynes they find there is a very clear structure of management line responsibility, there is always someone to talk to and someone available to support them to make a decision.”

Sharon Godfrey, Corporate Parenting Team manager, stated: “I started in this role in June 2015. I was previously with Milton Keynes Council in the mid-1990s. It’s a bit like a family as everyone knows everybody, so people tend to stay. Milton Keynes is a creative authority – they think outside the box. I’ve worked in several other local authorities and culturally they are a bit stuck, whereas Milton Keynes will be creative and respond to the need of the community with which they are working.

“Our salary scales aren’t a lot different to many of the London boroughs and we offer a market supplement to our social workers, so people get an extra £4,000 on top of their salary. We promote flexible working too so it supports people’s lifestyle, including mums who have maybe taken a work-break because they’ve had children. I’m considering doing a master’s in leadership and management, the local authority are committed to supporting me in that training.”

Graham Taylor-Paddick, Corporate Parenting Team social worker, told us: “I’ve been here for two-and-a-half years and I live in Aylesbury but it’s well worth the commute. I’ve worked for archaic local authorities in the past but in Milton Keynes things get done a lot quicker and more efficiently.

“We can even receive clinical supervision if we want, which is fantastic because opportunity for us to talk to an independent psychologist, this gives you the opportunity to look at your cases from a theoretical perspective. I like the training opportunities. I arrived here without a master’s degree in social work. I’ve decided I want to do that and, fortunately, my team manager is in support of that, so I’ll be starting that this year.”

Tara Daily is a newly qualified social worker (NQSW) in the Corporate Parenting Team. Tara commutes from Northampton for her role but she explains why she will stick around for a long time in Milton Keynes: “I’m a newly qualified social worker on the Assisted Supported Year in Employment programme. It’s a year-long programme and you get protected caseload, which is an added bonus. As a NQSW in Milton Keynes, you aren’t just thrown into it, there’s a lot of support.

“The support I receive within the team is really good and I have supervision every two weeks. I find the supervision really useful, not just in respect of the cases, but on a personal level too. The training I have been on is really good and when I speak to my manager and suggest other training options, I’m always encouraged to do it, which is a good thing when I’m starting out in my career.”

Agency to permanent

Once agency workers experience Milton Keynes, they tend to apply for a permanent post, which has contributed to a reduction in agency staff to below 10% of our workforce. Once they’ve been here three months they often say, I’m going to apply for a permanent job. The benefits of being here permanently far outweigh the benefits of having immediate cash on a weekly basis.

Amanda Dickson-Lewis, senior practitioner in the Family Support Team, transferred from an agency worker to become a permanent social worker. She said: “Having been a locum social worker for a number of years I decided to seek permanent employment with Milton Keynes Children’s Social Care as a result of my positive experience of working here. Managers are supportive and approachable and have good insight in to the needs of their team members.

“We have a manageable case load and have the recognition from management in respect of the stresses and pressures of our role. We are given space to do direct work and make a difference and help service users make positive changes. This all helps to make a difficult job easier to manage and a positive place to work.”

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Milton Keynes sponsored feature

A close and successful team

When you work within our Children and Family Team, you are joining a department with an innovative approach to social work and strong family support ethos, not only committed to supporting children, young people and their families, but also to every member of our close and successful team.

We are currently recruiting for qualified social workers at various levels and we would welcome you to view our careers page and register your interest for current roles or even for future roles.

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