Children’s services in Northamptonshire are undergoing something of a transformation. Since October 2013, when the county council began its improvement journey following a critical Ofsted inspection, a huge amount of work has been done in children’s services to make Northamptonshire a great place to work.
With the aim of creating a stable and able workforce – a key priority in our Children’s Services Improvement Programme – we’ve reduced social workers’ caseloads, cut the number of agency staff in frontline roles and recruited additional staff to support our improvement journey.
This is all part of our commitment to ensure our staff have all the support they need to do the very best for our children and families.
Children are our priority
Director of children, families and education Alex Hopkins says: “The number one thing for me is frontline practice. It’s really important that in everything we do we remember that working with children and young people is absolutely core and everything else is about supporting that.
“What we have put in place is a model of working and career progression that is absolutely focused on that, with quality supervision, and quality team management to make sure that everyone who works for us gets all the support they need to do a really good job.”
The reduction in social worker caseloads has seen 71% of staff now managing no more than 20 cases, while 75 permanent staff have joined us since October 2013 in frontline roles.
Building a stable and able workforce
In a groundbreaking approach to recruitment, a number of social workers are joining the council from India, while our innovative Social Work Academy is enabling us to address the nationwide challenge in recruiting experienced social workers by effectively ‘growing our own’, offering graduates full training and support when they join Northamptonshire County Council.
So what can you expect from a career in social work with Northamptonshire County Council?
Our staff benefit from full training and development, with a clearly defined career pathway setting out how you can develop your role with us. We value our social workers, so we commit to listening to our workforce and continually improving our service in response to their feedback.
Above all this, you can be part of an organisation that is truly committed to improving outcomes for children across Northamptonshire.
“The county council has made children’s services its number one priority,” says Alex. “We’ve been on quite an incredible journey. What we’ve been doing since 2013 is a huge amount of improvement in terms of working right across the organisation – improving what we do and how we do it.
“We’ve had some significant change in terms of senior management, we’ve got a new team in, and we’re now in a position where we are looking for experienced professional, permanent staff to come and work with us and drive that continued improvement in child protection.
“The politicians here are absolutely committed to turning this around and making our services for children among the best in the country.
“Our priorities are really simple – we’ve gone back to basics and our aim is to ensure that every child in the county has the opportunity to reach their full potential. That means children are kept safe, that they are ready for school, ready for work and they are healthy. For some of our most vulnerable children – the children in our care – we do everything we can to improve their life chances.
Early help and prevention
“We’ve been rebuilding children’s services from end to end and a lot of our focus has been on the front door, the point at which children come into the system as a result of a referral we may have received from another professional.
“We’ve put a lot of work into early help and prevention, making sure children and families get the support they need as early as possible, preventing the need for social care intervention.
“We’re now at the stage where were concentrating on practice, quality of case work, and this is where ensuring that we have really experienced staff working with us is absolutely key.”
If you’d like to be part of Northamptonshire County Council’s exciting improvement programme, you can find out more about social work jobs by visiting www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/socialcarejobs.