The Children’s Workforce Development Council is aiming to reform social workers’ working practices to allow more time with children.
The CWDC is seeking bids to trial new arrangements to provide social workers adequate background support.
It will fund 18 pilots over three years and said it wanted the trials to improve recruitment and retention of social workers and other social care staff, and also involve more early intervention work with clients.
It will appoint contractors and evaluators to support, assess and publicise the pilots, and progress will be highlighted at annual conferences.
CWDC chief executive Jane Haywood said: “This project will explore new ways of working which should prove attractive to social workers and improve outcomes for service users. It would therefore help manage some of the difficulties in the sector and achieve a higher level of retention.”
The initiative follows a number of recent ideas to reorganise children’s social work to empower frontline practitioners.
Hackney Council in east London has introduced a new model replacing traditional social work teams with “units”, headed by a consultant social worker who would have more control over case decisions than traditional practitioners, who must refer decisions to managers.
And the government is planning to trial GP-style social care practices as outlined in its children in care white paper. These would be contracted by councils to provide field social work services to looked-after children.
The Scottish executive announced plans last year to strengthen the role of front-line practitioners, including by creating a tier of professionals to work under the direction of social workers, following its 21st Century Review of Social Work.