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Comment: social worker caseloads and LA budget cuts

Steve Crocker, ADCS President, said:

“Recent government statistics on the children’s social work workforce show that the average number of caseloads has reduced slightly over recent years and was at 16.3 in 2021, however, this is not true for everyone, everywhere. It is crucial that caseloads are manageable and where they are not, good managers should challenge upwards. Social workers do incredibly important work on behalf of us all; if they are overwhelmed by their work this will have an impact on their mental health and wellbeing and on their work with children and families too. That said, there is no ‘right’ number of caseloads, cases vary in their complexity, therefore it is difficult to look at the number of caseloads in isolation. Generally, lower caseloads are better as this enables social workers to work more intensively alongside children and families to address their needs more effectively. That said, when allocating cases, we need to consider things like complexity, risk and the experience of the social worker too. We know what is needed to secure the very best outcomes for children and families - we need enough high quality social workers to support children and families who need it and we need enough funding from national government to invest in both child protection work and helping children at the earliest possible opportunity when we know we can make the biggest difference to them. However, there are some very practical constraints on local authorities in a context where need for help and support is increasing, we struggle to recruit and retain enough social workers nationally and after a decade of year on year cuts to local authority budgets. An independent review of children’s social care is due to report soon, and we are hopeful it will include recommendations that meaningfully address the workforce sufficiency and funding issues we currently face.”


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