Agenda item

Agenda item

LAC Social Worker 'Churn'


To consider a report outlining the Social Work churn for Looked After Children in Central Bedfordshire.





The Panel considered the report outlining the Social Work churn for Looked After Children in Central Bedfordshire.


Points and comments included:


1.    The data gathered was for the 12 month period of January to December 2017. Although the data requested by the Panel was for Social Work churn for Looked After Children, some Looked After Children had a Social Worker as a temporary arrangement in other parts of the system other that the Corporate Parenting team.


2.    The report was reassuring in terms of the stability of social workers. However it would be of interest to know how many social workers a Looked After Child whilst they are in care.


3.    The Stability Index was a new initiative by the Children’s Commissioner to measure the stability of the lives of children looked after by local authorities. A pilot had taken place involving 22 local authorities to gather data on the number of placement moves, school moves and changes in social worker care.  This initiative had not been adopted in Central Bedfordshire as yet.


4.    The Head of Corporate Parenting explained that the data for Central Bedfordshire indicated that children in the Corporate Parenting Team had the same social worker in the majority of cases.  Some of the planned changes were positive. The focus needed to be on unplanned changes which could be disruptive to the child or young person.


5.    The national average number of cases seen to be manageable and safe for a social worker at one time was 16/18.  However this number depended on the complexity of the case and associated court proceedings.


6.    The Out of Hours Social Services Emergency Duty Team provided out of hours support for Adults and Children.  A Head of Service is also on call at any one time.


7.    The retention rate of Social Workers in Central Bedfordshire remained very positive with only 3 individuals moving on in the first year of employment for personal reasons. The average age of social workers in Central Bedfordshire was currently late 20’s early 30’s.


8.    The Academy of Social Work and Early Intervention was a good success story around recruitment. The Academy worked with Social Workers as students and encouraged them to apply for a job with CBC when they finished university.


9.    Concern was expressed about the effect of planned social worker moves on a child/young person which included the deterioration of a good relationship with their social worker, becoming very cynical and not wanting to engage. The potential impact on those involved such as Foster Carers also needed to be taken into account.


10.The change in social workers and the stability often came up in conversation between children in care and Children in Care Council ambassadors.


11.The effect of change in social worker on a child/young person should not be underestimated as the most important aspect was the person who talked and listened to the child and fed this information back to ensure stability.


12.It was important that the child and their family were aware of the journey of the adoption and fostering process, the possibility of different social workers, the aims, and the next steps.


13.The system needed to be reflected on to ensure who it was for and did it best meet the needs of the children and young people.


14.Did the reasons why an exceptional social worker was moved need to be explored? There could be the scenario of four children in the same household having different social workers.  Were social workers in the right place at the right time and was ‘Social Worker’ the correct term to use?


15.It took time to build relationships and trust and it was important that the child did not have to tell their story numerous times.  Each child has an individual plan (Child in Need or Child Protection Plan) which is regularly reviewed by an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) reporting to the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB).




the Social Work churn for Looked After Children in Central Bedfordshire.




1.    that data be extracted to indicate the average number of social worker changes and the top 10 children affected  and reported to a future meeting of the Panel, taking into account planned changes.


2.    that the update at the March meeting on Children with three or more placements moves in 12 months placement would include data about outlyers.



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