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From Massachusetts to Maidstone: Kent hires US social workers

Daniel-Lombard-green.jpg by Daniel Lombard

Kent Council has recruited 29 social workers from Boston, Massachusetts to fill vacancies in its children’s services, starting in February.

It seems more and more councils are turning to other countries, particularly the US, which has a surplus of social workers (Haringey is doing the same, as reported in Community Care). Unlike Britain, which has an estimated 15,000 vacancies across the country.

Kent Council has also offered nine jobs to professionals from other European countries, but the authority’s lead member for children’s services, Sarah Hohler, is keen to stress that its international recruitment programme is being conducted alongside a local recruitment campaign (complete with a colourful website).

“Recruiting frontline children and families social workers and retaining them has been an issue around the country,” she said.


“Kent has a good reputation for training and supporting staff. This helps to retain our experienced workers and attract new people. They work in sometimes difficult and challenging circumstances and I am extremely proud of them.”

The decision to employ international social workers cannot be a reflection on the quality of services, as Kent was recently named as one of the best-performing authorities in England by the Audit Commission.



4 Responses to From Massachusetts to Maidstone: Kent hires US social workers

  1. catseyes 11 April , 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    International recruitment does not address the public image of the profession or ( even if not the case in Kent) treatment of staff in other less successful local authorities.
    Poor leadership, managerialism and bureaucratisation was not adequately dealt with by the Task Force. Until fundamental issues are addressed the 15,000 vacant positions will continue. We also need to be spared more harebrained schemes from the DSCF.
    Has anyone considered the cultural differences that also come into play. I certainly would not feel able to up sticks and immediately start work in another country with a different culture and different welfare system. Although I do feel you can learn from others and it is important to see the world via different views.

  2. Daniel Lombard 11 April , 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    Hi, thanks for your comment. The thinking seems to be that it’s just as time-consuming to train newly qualified social workers as overseas practitioners, and the employer will benefit from the experience of the latter in the short term. Cultural exchange is a good thing, as you suggest, but I agree that this approach is a sticking plaster to the very real recruitment problems in England and to a lesser extent the rest of the UK at the moment, caused by some of the underlying issues you have raised.

  3. Susan 11 April , 2013 at 11:14 pm #


    I am a Licensed Social Worker from the Boston, MA USA area, looking to relocate to the London/Luton, UK area and I am currently seeking out the first steps to take to obtain employment. Would anyone be able to make recommendations as to what companies to apply to, and who to contact,as well as how to obtain a sponsor for a work visa? I am looking to network with others in order to meet my goal of working and living in the UK.
    Thank you!

  4. Daniel Lombard 11 April , 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    Hi Susan, thanks for your comment and question. I would try calling some of the recruitment agencies in the UK which deal with international recruitment, while Kent County Council might also be able to advise you given that they have taken on American social workers, as per my original blog post. You might also wish to try the International Federation of Social Workers.