Frontline social work to be transformed

The government has set out ambitious plans to transform social work in England.

Children’s social work teams across England will receive £48m in 2010-11 to transform conditions on the frontline, children’s secretary Ed Balls has announced.

The funding includes £23m to help reduce pressure on frontline workers, £15m to improve IT systems and £10m to help Cafcass tackle the backlog of cases. The money forms part of the government’s implementation plan for the Social Work Task Force recommendations.

Ministers today pledged a total of £200m for adult and children’s social work in England for 2010-11.

The new funding pledges include:

  • A “local social work improvement fund” of £23m to help reduce pressure on frontline social workers.
  • A £15m grant to improve integrated children’s systems in local authorities.
  • £10m to enable Cafcass to tackle backlogs of court cases.
  • The Department for Children, Schools and Families said the local social work improvement fund could be used to:
  • Create new roles to enable experienced social workers to remain on the frontline.
  • Allow practitioners to spend more time with children and families.
  • Fund specialist teams to ensure speedy responses to referrals.
  • Fund “grow your own” training and recruitment schemes, which encourage support workers to train as social workers while working.

Children’s secretary Ed Balls said: “Children need high quality social workers, with the back-up and support to keep going in their demanding jobs. Today’s new funding and reform package will help to relieve pressure on the front line and let social workers spend more time with children and families.”

The announcement builds on the government’s initial response to the taskforce recommendations in December, which outlined a comprehensive action plan to raise the quality and status of the social work profession in England.

Ministers accepted all 15 recommendations, which included an overhaul of the training system; a new licence to practise scheme replacing registration; national standards for employers on support to frontline social workers; and an independent college to give the profession a national voice.

In addition, local safeguarding children boards will be required to produce comprehensive executive summaries of serious case reviews, under a revised version of Working Together to Safeguard Children, also published today.

It specifies that LSCBs must ensure summaries reflect the full overview report of the SCR and contain information about the review process, key issues arising from the case, the recommendations and an action plan.

Balls said: “SCRs are critically important to learning lessons so they’re not repeated. Getting them right, and taking clear follow-up action, is vital.”

The issue was raised by the government’s chief adviser on the safety of children, Roger Singleton, in his first report to Parliament today, alongside the need to improve performance management, inspection, professional relationships and local accountability for safeguarding.

Singleton also raised concerns about whether funding for safeguarding was adequate, given the rise in demand for children’s social care over the past 18 months.

The DCSF said today’s funding announcement was “the first step” to addressing Singleton’s concerns and the rising pressure on local areas.

The DCSF also issued its response to Lord Laming’s report on safeguarding, published 12 months ago.

Laming said: “One year on from my report, I am in no doubt about the widespread commitment to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children and young people. There is good practice around the country but we all need to continue to work with utter determination to make good practice standard practice everywhere.”

Related articles

Reform plans: the full picture

Social Work Task Force: what the final report means for you

DCSF pledges ‘immediate action’ on ICS

ADCS and Adass: Social Work Task Force plan must be resourced

Building a Safe and Confident Future: implementing the recommendations of the Social Work Task Force

Working Together to Safeguard Children: A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children

The chief adviser on the safety of children: first annual report to Parliament 2010

The Government’s Response to Lord Laming: One Year On



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