More councils to join social work practice pilots

Funding for more GP-style social work practices for looked-after children has been approved, the Department for Education has announced.

In 2008, six councils were given the go ahead to develop voluntary, private sector or staff-led practices where independent teams of social workers oversee services for children instead of the local authority.

Sandwell pulled out of the pilots in July last year, but now the government has announced that a further eight councils will be joining the pilot programme.

Local authorities that have been selected to run additional social work practice pilots in 2011 are:

    * Bristol City Council
    * North Tyneside Council in partnership with Northumberland County Council
    * Peterborough City Council  (which will run two practices)
    * South Tyneside Council
    * Wakefield Council
    * Warwickshire County Council in partnership with Coventry City Council

Bristol’s cabinet member for children and young people Clare Campion-Smith said: “Reducing bureaucracy will allow social workers to spend more time directly with the children for whom they have responsibility and be creative about the way they work. 

“When a young person becomes a care leaver, social workers in the practice will be able to carry on working with them, rather than handing over to a personal adviser and losing contact at this important time. This model potentially helps children stay with the same social worker from birth through to the age of 18 and older if required.”

The councils that have been developing their pilots since 2008 are Kent, Liverpool, Hillingdon and Staffordshire, and Blackburn with Darwen.