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Comment on the Department for Education’s Vulnerable Children...

Responding to the Department for Education’s Vulnerable Children and Young People Survey: Summary of Waves 1 to 12, Rachael Wardell, Chair of the Workforce Development Policy Committee said:

“Children’s services adapted to new ways of working when the first national lockdown began in March and the learning from this period has been valuable in establishing sound working practices during the current national restrictions. Children’s services have worked hard to stay as close to ‘business as usual’ as possible, in particular by maintaining contact with children receiving support. Because schools and other education and childcare settings have remained open, teachers and other staff are able to raise any safeguarding concerns they may have. All local authorities have had to consider how we can continue to provide essential services as members of our workforce fall ill or are required to self-isolate, including our social workers. As the survey findings show, the number of local authorities reporting over 10% of their social workers being unable to work due to coronavirus slightly increased towards the end of October. Most local authorities have responded to any workforce shortages by redeploying their existing staff to fill gaps because those staff are already familiar with local arrangements and systems.

We anticipate that our peak in referrals to children’s services is yet to come, and when it does this will put added pressure on a workforce that was already under strain pre-Covid-19, particularly if the number of social worker absences continues to rise. We hope that the current national restrictions will succeed in reducing the transmission of the virus and therefore mean fewer members of our workforce are unavailable for this essential work. ADCS has been raising for some time the issue of social work sufficiency, namely recruitment and retention. Local authorities are already doing innovative work to ensure they have a sufficient, high quality workforce, but a national campaign which tackles longstanding stereotypes head on and clearly articulates that good social work helps change lives for the better would undoubtedly help with this.”


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