Plans by local and central government leaders to persuade thousands of children’s social workers to return to council practice to solve staff shortages in England have met with scepticism from practitioners.
Contributors to Community Care’s online CareSpace discussion forum warned that the administrative burden of practice will have led people to leave council practice and would deter them from returning.
Others raised concerns about the impact of bringing back retired practitioners on the employment prospects of new graduates and questioned the ability of returning social workers to adjust to current practice.
LGA wants to lure back 5,000 practitioners
The Local Government Association is aiming to lure back 5,000 recently retired children’s social workers, while the Department for Children, Schools and Families is planning to set up a service to match returners with prospective employers.
It is targeting 30,000 practitioners who have left or retired from council practice in the past few years to fill the 5,500 posts currently occupied by agency staff nationally.
Nushra Mansuri, professional officer for BASW England, said experienced staff should not be used simply to “bail out” struggling teams.
Expertise must be respected
“It’s critical that we give them a supervisory or mentoring role, and a title which commands respect and recognises their expertise.”
Echoing comments on CareSpace, Mansuri added: “We should never have lost so many people in the first place. It shows how far people felt they weren’t being looked after.”
Keith Brumfitt, director of strategy at the Children’s Workforce Development Council, said the pool of social workers who could return was “much smaller” than the 30,000 who have left or retired in the past few years.
He said returning practitioners would be likely to want pre-employment support and training to refresh their skills and understand any recent practice developments.
Training will require resources
He added: “This will have resource implications. It is too early to be clear about the details as we need to complete further work with potential candidates to understand better their needs.”
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