Councils clarify position over unallocated children cases

Debate over the allocation of cases by children’s services departments has intensified following a Community Care investigation.

Sunderland City Council said the figures which showed it had seven unallocated child protection cases were a “snapshot” of their figures at the time and “the cases were in transit between teams”.

Derbyshire and Lincolnshire councils stated the figures they provided, revealing over one thousand unallocated children-in-need cases between them, in fact included a significant number of cases waiting to be closed, cases being worked on by partner agencies and cases where young people were merely receiving financial payments.

However, Philip Measures, a retired social worker from Birmingham, said cases awaiting closure “should not show up as unallocated as they remain open until such time as formally de-allocated and closed”.

Barnet Council said its unallocated cases, 18% of its total regarding looked-after children, were in fact allocated to social work assistants, trainees, family support workers and leaving care workers. However, Community Care had requested data for how many were allocated to professionals other than qualified social workers.

Perdeep Gill, child protection consultant and trainer, said the councils’ responses raised questions about what value they placed on qualified social workers.

“If they’re saying that so many of their cases are able to be allocated to professionals other than a qualifed social worker are we saying that social workers only need to be involved in child protection cases?”

• Barnsley Council was wrongly identified as having 51 unallocated children-in-care cases and 114 unallocated children-in-need cases. In fact all but nine of these cases were allocated to professionals other than a social worker. Community Care apologises for the error.

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