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Comment on DfE social work workforce statistics

Commenting on the latest social work workforce data, ADCS President Charlotte Ramsden said:

“The latest government statistics on the social work workforce reflect some of the challenges that social workers and local authorities have faced during the height of the pandemic. Lockdowns and enduring disruption to daily lives has exacerbated pre-existing challenges that children and families face, such as poverty and domestic abuse. Despite this, social workers have worked tirelessly, continuing to visit homes to support and safeguard children as well as providing practical help to parents and carers.

“Retaining enough social workers has long been a challenge for local authorities and it is deeply concerning that 5,000 child and family social workers left their role in the year ending 30 September 2021. It is important for children to have a consistency of social worker in their lives where possible, but this is increasingly difficult with more social workers leaving the profession. As leaders of children’s services, we urge the government to launch a national social work campaign, similar to the government’s teacher recruitment efforts. This should tackle longstanding stereotypes head on and clearly articulate that good social work can and does change lives. Local authorities are doing innovative work to improve the recruitment and retention of social workers but extra national investment is needed to recruit more social workers and that they receive the right reward for the challenging work they do.

“The pandemic has compounded longstanding challenges in the wider children’s workforce, not just social work. Added to this, public sector pay freezes and a cost of living crisis have created additional challenges. The government must take a holistic view of the children’s workforce which spans multiple government departments. Youth workers, residential workers and family support workers to name just a few all play a vital role in improving children’s outcomes. If we are truly ambitious for our children, we must have a workforce that reflects this.”


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