Council in bid to reduce social work caseloads to 15 by hiring 20 more staff

A council is investing £1 million to recruit new social workers

Picture credit: vege/fotolia

A council is investing £1 million to recruit 20 extra social workers and reduce caseloads to 15 per social worker.

Dorset council approved the investment, branded as an ‘invest to save’ bid, this week. The council anticipated it would lead to £1.5 million in savings in 2018-19 largely due to an anticipated reduction in looked-after children numbers.

Steve Butler, cabinet member for children’s services in Dorset, said more social workers would mean more time spent with children and families, and help reduce the number of children in care.

The council’s children’s services requested the £1 million investment to recruit more social workers, who will work in areas across the service, as part of its bid to achieve savings to balance its budget during the council’s medium term financial plan update from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

“This additional resource would enable the reduction of caseloads to 1:15,” the proposal said.

“All the programmes (Family Partnership zones, recruitment of foster carers working with children on the edge of care, reduction of rereferral rate) will be made to work consistent with one another to bear down on a reducing number of [looked-after children] and achieving the consequential budget savings.”

Overspend in children’s services

Dorset council is currently predicting an overall overspend of £6.1 million in children’s services for 2017-18.

There are currently 445 children in care in Dorset, and the council does not believe it will reach a “best case” anticipated number of 400 by the end of 2017-18

It said the looked-after children cohort had seen lower cost placements replaced by higher cost ones with independent fostering and residential care providers, which was set to overspend the budget by £7.3 million in this financial year. The council had previously approved a £2.4 million contingency payment to try to mitigate pressures in children’s services.

A strategy to modernise fostering in Dorset has begun, with the aim of increasing in-house capacity by recruiting, retaining foster carers, but the council said it was unlikely that it would see the impact of this strategy until the end of 2017-18.

Further savings were anticipated in 2019-20 as the number of children in care continue to fall, the council said.

Butler added: “The more social workers we have, the more manageable our caseloads will become, meaning there’s more time to change children’s lives for the better.”

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6 Responses to Council in bid to reduce social work caseloads to 15 by hiring 20 more staff

  1. Rutter peggy December 13, 2017 at 8:28 pm #

    I would love to be a social worker, but not sure where to start, what qualifications are neede, where can I go to be trained??

    • Paul December 15, 2017 at 11:43 pm #

      You need a degree in Social work or there are other routes such as the Step up to Social Work programme. A quick google search will give you more information.

  2. Karen December 14, 2017 at 11:31 am #

    It’s not more money invested needed. It’s sw not removing children from families. Foster care costs a fortune. Money need to be spent to help families in crisis. It costs less to help a family then take the children.

    • LongtimeSW December 18, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

      Karen – Yet again someone says that it is SW ‘removing children from families’ – IT IS NEVER a SW that removes them – it is illegal to do so without a Court Order – only the police can ‘remove children’ and then only to a safe place agreed with the Local authority and for a maximum of 48 hours. In each and every case where a child is removed there has to be a hearing of some kind before a Court – it is the Court that decides whether a child or children are to be ‘removed’ either for a short period under an emergency order before a further hearing or an Order PLACING the child/ren into the care of the Local authority – unless this is permanent, there will be further hearings where evidence must be presented and tested by the Court whose job is to make a decision based on what the child/ren’s long term best interests are.

      What is being said by Dorset is that it will allow SW’s to spend more quality time with families with the aim to keep the children and family safely together. I do absolutely agree though that it costs less (emotionally and financially) to help a family than to have them in Care. However we must never forget that our children are precious beings and NOT the property of their parents or anyone else – please remember that PR stands for Parental responsibility not Parental Rights – the children’s Rights are or should be paramount – that’s why we sadly need Courts to take a decision as to a child’s future if it is possibly going to be away from the family.

  3. Mel December 14, 2017 at 3:03 pm #

    Government has fast track programmes on various disciples in the field or undertake an undergraduate or Masters degree in Social Work. Thats the way forward for some .

  4. Jon December 21, 2017 at 7:59 am #

    Well, well. The penny finally drops. When will the Government and Senior managers realise that it is a lack of resources, high caseloads, unrealistic work pressures and the demands on social workers that is the issue here for all of us. This will have been said many, many times before and I know is a very simplistic approach. In essence, if you do not have a work force big enough to cope with the demands then what needs to happen…..increase it. A good decision from Dorset but will others follow….??