Council that takes ‘prompt action’ to ensure manageable caseloads for social workers rated ‘outstanding’

Social workers received regular supervision and had caseloads that enabled them to build trusting relationships with children

good job
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A children’s service that regularly monitors social worker caseloads and takes “prompt action” to address variances has been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

Social workers in East Sussex children’s services benefit from regular supervision and managers who act to make sure caseloads are maintained at a level that allow practitioners to build trusting relationships with children and visit those who live outside the region, the inspection report said.

In the small number of cases where workloads were above the council’s recommended level “senior managers demonstrated detailed knowledge about these caseloads and were already taking steps to reduce them”.

Inspectors praised the council’s approach to “developing, inspiring and retaining the children’s social care workforce”.

“Inspectors saw examples of children having the same social worker for many years,” the report said. It also praised a programme of work which reformed safeguarding systems and meant “considerable investment in the training of staff to be more skilled and confident in building relationships with families”.

High standards

The report said leaders in the council set “exceptionally high standards for services” and had established a culture where “talented social workers stay, and where effective social work flourishes”.

“The local authority is a strong, dynamic learning organisation that encourages self-reflection at all levels,” the report said, and it praised the “well-embedded” model, called ‘connected practice’, employed in East Sussex.

“The quality and longevity of social work relationships with children in care, care leavers and children who are adopted support purposeful, creative and important direct work.

“Outstanding practice is widespread across the service and is supported by a range of well-used direct work tools such as communication and participation, digital, and neglect toolkits,” the report said.

Responding to the report, Sylvia Tidy, the council’s lead member for children and families, said: “To be rated outstanding is testament to the commitment and dedication of all of our staff, and I would like to thank them all for the fantastic work they do often in difficult and sometimes heart-breaking situations.”

10 Responses to Council that takes ‘prompt action’ to ensure manageable caseloads for social workers rated ‘outstanding’

  1. sw111 September 5, 2018 at 1:51 pm #

    It’s positive to note this Local Authority is investing so much in their workers which obviously will translate into better performance, building and maintaining children’s relationship with their workers and effective social work flourishes.

  2. Matthew Newman September 5, 2018 at 4:38 pm #

    What about a positive relationship with the parents aswell?

  3. Anonymous September 7, 2018 at 8:23 am #

    Great news for SWs, children and outcomes. Hope it transfers in all areas of SW LAs.

  4. Colin September 10, 2018 at 2:05 pm #

    Why is this great news………shouldn’t it be the norm!!

    • Catherine Moody September 12, 2018 at 6:41 am #

      Also, the report, which I’ve read in full, states East Sussex County Council does not use agency workers because the workforce is stable. However, when people in the east of the county leave in significant numbers or transfer from family support their caseloads are simply divided amongst existing social workers meaning caseloads are high and unbearable.

  5. Catherine Moody September 10, 2018 at 5:06 pm #

    I practiced as a social worker for East Sussex County Council in one of the family support teams from 2012 until 2017. I have read the ofsted report and whilst I agree there are many outstanding features of East Sussex County Council’s social work model and practice, in the east of the county a manageable case load was not my experience. The report states that East Sussex County Council prides itself on its stable work force which means it has no need of agency social workers. My experience in the east of the county was a high turnover of staff. Upon departure the case load of departing social workers would simply be divided among existing workers. It became unbearable and I left. In addition to those social workers who left East Sussex County Council, a significant number of others transferred to other service areas within the County Council. I therefore find parts of the report to be, at best, disingenuous.

  6. Tabatha September 11, 2018 at 10:56 am #

    Dudley MBC are brilliant Social Services.

  7. Debbie September 16, 2018 at 3:18 pm #

    They don’t say how many cases are seen as a manageable caseload either.

    • Darcy September 22, 2018 at 10:59 am #

      I have read Community Care articles where some local authorities claim caseloads can be between 18 and 23, and as such ‘manageable’. From my experience, I have never held a caseload under 38 and it became the norm for my team to hold cases in the mid 40’s. It was relentless and untenable, and like a domino effect, experienced team members left (without exit interviews!).

      SW’s who remained had to pick up their cases and agency workers were drafted in to plug the gaps. When they too struggled with the volume of cases, they left. It is a vicious circle that is occurring in many LA’s where it is becoming dangerous to practice. No wonder people do not wish to remain in or enter the profession.

  8. Errin September 22, 2018 at 5:33 pm #

    Smoke and mirrors, camouflaging the real caseload numbers which in my experience have ranged at the lowest 38 and the highest 45.