Quality of children’s services ‘bleak’, report says

An evidence review by the Education Policy Institute said the outlook for children's services was "concerning"

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The service quality for children’s social care is “bleak”, a report by a leading education policy think tank has said.

The evidence review by the Education Policy Institute of children’s social care said the outlook for children’s services was “concerning” given the impact of “years of local overspend and insecurity in the workforce”.

It pointed to Ofsted inspections which found 64% of local authority children’s services in England were ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ under the single inspection framework which ran until December 2017.

It said in a context where child poverty was projected to increase “the strains on the system are unlikely to decrease without significant additional spending”.

“To maintain statutory services, local authorities have balanced a fall in local spending power since 2010 with cuts to early support services combined with the use of budget reserves,” the report said.

Burnout a significant problem

Workforce data indicates that burnout is a “significant problem” in children’s social work, and the heavy reliance on agency workers in some areas could be “problematic”.

“Social worker change has been linked to a loss of trust among children in need,” the report said.

It said late intervention and statutory services had “weathered” funding cuts so far, but early intervention had not, despite “solid evidence” in its effectiveness.

Report author and senior researcher at the Education Policy Institute Whitney Crenna-Jennings said the capacity of local authorities to offer preventative services had been “compromised” by financial constraints.

“Along with instability in the workforce, it is likely that these problems could result in adverse effects on both the short- and long-term outcomes of those in contact with social care,” she said.

“To safeguard the future of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children in England, the government should ensure that local authorities are able to draw on sufficient resources, so that more preventative services can be delivered.”

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13 Responses to Quality of children’s services ‘bleak’, report says

  1. Marie April 30, 2018 at 5:39 pm #

    Someone has finally understood the situation. Nothing will happen though. Social care will continue to struggle to protect and provide children with robust and continued services. The blame culture both within and outside of these services will continue to erode away what was once a valued and skilled profession. Experienced and skilled staff will continue to leave the profession resulting in far more less experienced workers deemed “experienced” and therefore capable of undertaking the roles that require a social worker with extensive experiences to undertake.

    • kelly May 3, 2018 at 12:23 pm #

      Absolutely correct

  2. Bionic Woman April 30, 2018 at 10:25 pm #

    Why are SWs not remaining in perm roles and opting for agency. Has their good will run out? Have they been taken for granted, overloaded and when they can’t cope, bullied, made to feel inept and put on performance/capability procedures? Who cares if they burn out; LAs are so used to chewing up and spitting out their burnt out workers, ready for the next wave of newly qualifieds. Being Agency is NOT about money. By the time you’ve paid for registration, training, pension, annual/sick leave etc. it works out even. The real advantage is if management try to overload and then bully you, it is easier to leave and there will be ten more jobs lined up, due to the staffing crisis. The government needs to address workloads/stress/burnout in order to create a solid workforce that is properly supported to do a good enough job.

    • Anonymous May 2, 2018 at 10:00 am #

      So true.

    • kelly May 3, 2018 at 12:24 pm #


    • Katie Politico May 3, 2018 at 1:29 pm #

      This government has deliberately inflicted pain and suffering through austerity on everyone who is not considered economically highly viable. This is psychopathy. Social workers are now commodities but not high value ones, yet, so the government cares nothing about burnout. We’re commodities.

  3. kelly May 1, 2018 at 10:20 am #

    I worked in a local authority where 14 social workers resigned within 4 months; decimating 3 CP teams . Bullying was prevalent; cases were 40 plus and the demands made were ridiculous. Some were burnt out and others jumped ship before being pushed. Agency and NQSW were drafted in to plug the gaps; resulting in unstable teams. Local authorities do not value their experienced staff and managers are ineffective and target staff’ with their unethical behaviours. The profession is disregarded as government are not interested in social workers and the system is collapsing.

    • kelly May 3, 2018 at 12:25 pm #

      So sad

  4. Sw111 May 1, 2018 at 11:15 am #

    Blaming agency as problematic is giving a very simplistic and spurious view of the situation. agency workers are huge asset and they tend to get the ground running when the situation is in a crisis, at a breaking out.
    The main issue is poor, punitive management that has no direction and unless that is addressed, regardless of the money that is allocated, the intervention will remain ineffective.
    There is systemic failings and that need to be addressed from the top; there is a blame culture that is rife which is reinforced by HCPC. Rather than taking that failings as an opportunity for systemic learning and encourage practice that is humane, embedded by the values of social care the situation will continue to remain bleak.

  5. Hannah May 1, 2018 at 8:16 pm #

    Spot on!!! It has become a demoralising profession and it lacks the true meaning of value! As students values is drummed into the students. In reality there is none! Its a blame culture, work overload, high turn over and the cycle continues!!! Ofsted criticism compounds the situation further!

  6. yorkshire lass May 3, 2018 at 10:49 am #

    totally agree im currently burnt out and after 15 years looking for a new career

  7. Anonymous May 3, 2018 at 12:29 pm #

    I’m a foster carer who is so frustrated with sw been on sick leave, never getting phone calls returned, no response to e mails. Sw have far to many case loads. They can not do there job to there best. I certainly think the hole system needs look at before we have another major catastrophe.

  8. J.M May 3, 2018 at 11:23 pm #

    Unfortunately I too have little faith that meaningful changes will take place & fear whatever the Gvt does to address issue – if anything – that it will be undoubtedly too little too late!
    Little faith coz REALLY the “think tan” just realised the outcome is bleak ! Maybe less thinking & more listening to social workers and you’d know it’s been imploding for years & wouldn’t have needed a report to tell us the outcome is bleak and that’s sad & makes me