49% of ASYE social workers promised a protected caseload don’t have one, survey finds

Community Care survey finds a majority of social workers doing their first year in employment often had less than three hours of supervision a month

child and professional
Photo: Photograph.eu/Fotolia

Almost half of social workers on their assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) did not have a protected caseload, despite their employer promising one, a Community Care survey has revealed.

The survey of 640 social workers undertaking or having just finished their ASYE found 82% had a commitment to protected caseloads from their employer, but 49% were not experiencing one.

The ASYE was introduced in 2012 on the back of recommendations by the Social Work Task Force in 2009 as a way of better supporting new social workers into the profession. It is not mandatory, but local authorities receive a £2,000 grant per social worker employed on an ASYE from the government.

Despite the intention of the scheme to provide extra support, nearly three-quarters (74%) of social workers had three hours or less supervision a month on their ASYE, the survey found, with the most common amount of supervision being between 1.5 and three hours a month.

However, even with only limited amounts of supervision, 55% of social workers  said they feel or felt supported in their first year, including 67% of those that did not have a protected caseload despite being promised one.

A majority of social workers (69%) said they would or did remain with the employer they have done their ASYE with, and almost three-quarters felt prepared to continue their career as a social worker after their ASYE.

Rachael Wardell, chair of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services’ workforce development policy committee, said there should be expected “variation” in ASYE provision due to it not being compulsory and “largely informed by the local context”.

“However, it is clear that far too few social workers feel adequately protected in their first year in practice. This variability in support, and in particular the difficulty of maintaining protected caseloads, reflects a national shortage of child and family social workers and rising levels of demand for services in the context of falling budgets and a high-stakes inspection regime, which impacts negatively on staff turnover.”

Wardell said it was encouraging that more than two-thirds of respondents would choose to stay with their employer, but added it was necessary for employers to take social workers’ professional development “to be taken forward in a consistent and holistic way” and added the ADCS will continue to push for this.

Five reported protected caseloads compared to their actual

Max Actual
Adults’ 25 35
Children’s 17 35
Children’s 18 28
Children’s 18 35
Children’s 12 36

Maris Stratulis, England manager for the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), said it was promising that social workers felt supported in their first year and would remain with their employer, however she stressed the importance of all ASYEs having the same opportunities and experiences.

“There is clearly evidence from this survey that there is too much variance, especially in an ASYE year,” Stratulis said.

“This, and other results from the research, further underline key messages that came out from the BASW England 80/20 campaign survey which showed that social workers do not get enough time to reflect on their practice or engage enough directly with children, young people and families.

“Protected caseloads and regular supervision are two important components of good leadership and supervisory practice standards, and if we get the standards right for social workers at the beginning of their career it will hold them in good stead throughout their career pathway, and ultimately result in good quality relationship-based work with children and their families,” she said.

The Department for Education has confirmed they have contracted Skills for Care to lead a programme to ensure newly-qualified child and family social workers receive quality support. It said it was vital that newly-qualified social workers are given caseloads suited to their skills and experience.

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5 Responses to 49% of ASYE social workers promised a protected caseload don’t have one, survey finds

  1. Tom J June 13, 2018 at 10:20 am #

    – ASYE’s not supported. ASYE caseloads not protected. No supervision.

    Fear not. If there are any subsequent issues with these workers practice you can rest assure that the HCPC will take firm and decisive action*.

    *The only problem being that the action will be against the ASYE and not the local authority 🙁

  2. Stephen June 13, 2018 at 11:12 pm #

    I was saddened reading the experience of ASYE Social Worker that raised this article. I have put three workers through this process and they have on to be good practitioners. Time is required to give opportunities to individuals undertaking the ASYE so they can develop and get good grounding before going into main stream practice.

    The ASYE program should be given the respect it deserve because we need a high calibre of Social Workers in these difficult times within our communities.

    I am of the view program facilitators are accountable to ensure the AYSE program is run efficiently and address concerns of caseloads, support and supervision as and when they arise.

  3. George June 14, 2018 at 12:27 am #

    Whole system needs major refit the managers various grades need buck up

  4. Manul June 14, 2018 at 12:41 am #

    Dear communitycare, at a time where social works is a diverse profession, I feel it not conducive to the sector for there to be merely images of ethnically white people and mostly women in your articles. It’s deeply offensive and does not reflect upon a profession where there does exist black and Asian people. I kindly urge you to reflect on it.

    • Florence June 15, 2018 at 7:46 am #

      My experience of the ASYE is that it is very dependt on the local authority. I’ve come across some better than others. I know people who have 15-17 cases for the whole 12 months. Unfortunately I did not. I remember having 37 at one point. I’m quite confident so I reminded my manager that this is not right. I was given extra support immediately
      This was helpful and manageable.
      I enjoyed the ASYE in the end but still ask what is the real reason around it as local authorities in particular really have no time for it or even appear interested