Herefordshire Council is bucking the national trend and reducing social worker caseloads as part of its plan to improve child protection across the county.
On average, a social worker in children’s services can be expected to deal with dozens of cases at any one time, although this varies from region to region.
The results of a poll conducted by the Guardian indicates that the majority of social workers (85 percent of respondents) have seen significant increases in caseloads over the last year. The report says just two percent of respondents had experienced reductions in caseloads. In Herefordshire social workers fall into the two percent category as their caseloads have fallen from up to 35 cases per social worker last year to an average of 16 cases today. This reduction is down to changes in the way social work is managed.
Cllr Jeremy Millar, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Making sure children are kept safe from harm is a priority for Herefordshire Council. We are improving our child protection services and part of this includes recruiting and retaining good quality experienced social workers and making sure there’s a good structure in place to support them.
“So we’ve been changing the way we work, reducing caseloads, improving technology and streamlining business processes to reduce form filling. In short, we’re taking social work back to its roots by creating an environment that focusses on getting the balance right between care assessments and direct working with families.”
“Like other council’s across the country, recruiting experienced social workers is challenging. But by changing our focus, building a structure that values and rewards good practice and gives social workers smaller caseloads, we hope to attract some of the best.”
This week the council refreshes its recruitment campaign by pledging to take social work back to its roots.