Child Care Social Work In Crisis Claims Social Worker

A staffing crisis means that social workers devote less than ONE HOUR a week to each child on their workload, it is being claimed.

Hard-pressed staff and union leaders warn that it is only a matter of time before another Baby P case happens because case workers are unable to monitor every child.

An anonymous whistle-blower in Liverpool told of the predicament faced by social workers in the city’s Child Services Department.

The source said: “We are contracted to work 35 hours a week, but we are allocated around 45 cases each and that means less than an hour a week per child.

“We keep telling the management that we desperately need more staff but it seems nobody is listening.

“Everyone is being so careful after the Baby P case. The workload has shot up and social workers are off with stress because they can’t cope.

“I don’t think people realise how stressful a job this is. Those people who criticise us should try spending a day in our shoes.”

Councils are now having to compete with one another for staff, and are increasing wages to attract social workers. Manchester council is offering an £8,000 relocation grant to attract social workers to them.

The claims come just weeks after Haringey Council, where the Baby P case happened, pleaded with other authorities to lend it social workers.

Ian Johnson, Chief Executive of The British Association of Social Workers said: “We are gravely concerned about this situation, there are unrealistic demands put on social workers’ time.

“Managers have to say things are great, but the reality is, they’re not, social workers are having to make difficult decisions about where to place their attention.

“They are expected to know what is happening with every case 24 hours a day.

“Some councils have up to 50 per cent of social work jobs vacant and there is a shortfall in the funding and since the Baby P case the workload has shot up.

“At any one time there are up to 30,000 child protection cases on going, people don’t see the good work we do.

“There is no right level of work for a social worker but 45 cases is excessive and will mean they will have to make tough decisions as to which children merit the most attention.”

A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council said: “It is nonsense to suggest social workers are spending less than an hour per week for each child in the care of the local authority.

“The care and safety of every looked after child is paramount, and we ensure every child receives the appropriate level of care and direct support depending on their individual circumstances and needs.

“While there is a national shortage of children’s social workers, locally we are constantly advertising for staff and our vacancy rate is less than many other local authorities.”