Fears for skills development of children’s homes staff

Staff development for children's home workers could suffer when the government brings the Children's Workforce Development Council's programmes in-house.

Staff development for children’s home workers could suffer when the government brings the Children’s Workforce Development Council’s programmes in-house.

That was the message from Paul Ennals, chair of the CWDC, in an interview with Community Care after the Department for Education decided to end the skills council’s £150m annual funding in April 2012.

The government is to open talks with the CWDC about transferring its work to Whitehall over the next 18 months. This will include the recruitment and retention schemes in children’s social work.

Ennals was confident that support programmes for newly qualified social workers in children’s services would continue, but raised concerns about the lesser-known aspects of the CWDC’s work.

One is the planned launch in 2011 of a national framework of professional development standards for children’s home workers, in partnership with Action for Children.

“We’re confident that programmes for newly qualified social workers and other schemes in social work will remain,” Ennals said. “I’m more worried about areas where they haven’t declared their commitment, such as residential social work, which is being hit from every side.

“Referrals have gone up, government funding for the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care was cut and I’m concerned that workforce support will suffer in this area from neglect rather than by design. It could be an unintended consequence of the reforms.”

The CWDC recently published an evaluation of the first year of its support scheme for newly qualified social workers, which found widespread problems in implementing the initiative due to lack of frontline capacity.

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