The Association of Directors of Children’s Services has blamed pressures on departments for Birmingham’s failure to allocate a qualified social worker to every child in need and looked-after child.
Many professionals have expressed concern that Birmingham is assigning practitioners, such as family support workers and social work assistants to oversee cases instead of qualified social workers.
The ADCS, however, has said this practice is preferable to overwhelming social workers with heavy caseloads.
“Children-in-need cases allocated to family support workers and other staff in the children’s workforce is widespread and is a sensible approach to managing the workload,” said Colin Green, chair of the ADCS families, children and young people policy committee. “Allocation of a child in care to an appropriately experienced worker supported by a senior social worker can be an effective way to meet the child’s need, if not ideal.
“Maintaining manageable caseloads is important in enabling staff to provide an at least satisfactory service to each child, young person and family.”
Community Care found that 852 of Birmingham’s children in need – a quarter of the total – do not have an allocated qualified social worker; 12% of children in care do not have one either.
On 19 August 2010, Birmingham had 2,787 children-in-need cases allocated to social workers, but 852 were not. Of 1,999 looked-after children on the council’s books, 232 cases were unallocated.
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