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Comment on DfE longitudinal study

Rachael Wardell, Chair of the Workforce Development Policy Committee said:

“This latest study of the experiences of child and family social workers provides some valuable insights and there are important messages here for local authorities to take away. There are also messages for the Department for Education and Treasury, particularly around caseload sizes and lack of resources being cited as a common cause of stress experienced by social workers. However, there are some encouraging signs such as high levels of job satisfaction among experienced social workers and ASYEs. Social workers carry exceptional responsibility on behalf of us all. It is important to us that social workers feel valued, well supported in their role and have manageable workloads so that they can spend more time with children and families making positive and enduring changes in their lives.

“The whole workforce has been under immense pressure since the outbreak of the pandemic. Social workers and local authority staff have had to adapt to new working arrangements, such as home working, in a short space of time and during very difficult circumstances. For some, the transition to remote working has been difficult as well as the long-term impact of being away from friends and colleagues but we know it has been particularly challenging for new people entering the workforce. Councils are doing all they can to put in place the necessary support to make this easier to ensure that staff receive the support they need. As the report notes, we are seeing more complex cases as the real impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable children is starting to become increasingly apparent. We anticipate that the number of children and families requiring our support will significantly increase over the next year and beyond, with a greater complexity of need.

“Before Covid-19, councils across the country were struggling to recruit and retain enough high quality social workers to manage existing workloads. We also need to consider the fatigue that many of our workforce are already experiencing and which will continue to increase as we face our peak. This reinforces the need for a national recruitment and retention campaign which emphasises the positive work that social workers do and their key role in responding to the pandemic.”

ENDS



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