Social team supporting vulnerable youngsters expands

Northumberland Gazette latest
Northumberland Gazette latest

The number of children and family social workers has risen in Northumberland, according to Government figures.

The council has the equivalent of 194 full-time staff in these key roles working with vulnerable young people, a rise of 27.

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) said that although the numbers across England had increased there was still concern about the pressures that many social workers were facing.

The latest statistics from the Department for Education cover the 12 months up to the end of September 2017. In the previous 12 months, there were 167 full-time staff.

Some full-time posts are shared between part-time workers. The turnover of staff, the proportion of the workforce that left over the 12 months, was 8.4 per cent. This is below the average for England of 13.6 per cent.

The largest group of leavers was highly experienced social workers with 10 to 20 years in the job.

Social workers dealing directly with children and families make up 67 per cent of the full-time staff. The rest are in management roles or are newly-qualified social workers not given responsibility for cases.

The average caseload for each full-time social worker dealing directly with cases was 19.3. The average for England is 17.8.

The BASW said that caseload numbers failed to show the full picture as they didn’t take account of the complexity of some cases where multiple children from the same family might be living in different locations with different care solutions.

Maris Stratulis, England manager of the BASW, said that although the total number of social workers had increased there were concerns about vacancy levels and turnover rates in many areas.

She said: “The pressures on children’s social workers are at times untenable as they are given unmanageable caseloads, work well over their hours and carry the stress of what if something goes wrong.”

“We know only too well that the stakes are very high.”