Agenda item

Children's Social Work Assessment and Fostering Teams

To receive an update on the work of the Children’s Social Work Assessment and Fostering Teams




The Sub-committee received a report from the Principal Social Worker and members of the Social Work Team on the work of the Children’s social work assessment teams, including the fostering team, the workforce profile, the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) support available and the Post Qualifying (PQ) and other continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities to social work staff.


            The social work teams were organised to follow the journey of a child or young person who was referred to children’s services.  The Model of practice embedded in children’s social care was Signs of Safety which focused on the strengths and relationships within families.


Within the Safe and Supported Area, there were currently six social work teams; each had one team manager and seven social workers. There was a variety of experience across the teams ranging from a large cohort of newly qualified social workers undertaking their ASYE to progressed social workers who were also practice educators. 


The Safe and Supported teams managed a variety of case work including Child In Need, Child Protection, Looked After Children (both long term looked after children and those who had on-going legal proceedings ), and also had cases where adoption was being progressed and Private Law applications to determine where and with whom a child should live following parents separating or to support applications for one parent to see their child should there be family discord.


The role of the social worker in a Safe and Supported Team was a complex one with risk management being evident in what they did to support families.


A Member enquired whether the fourteen social workers who had left the Council in a twelve month period had been given exit interviews and it was noted that the vast majority went to other Councils in the North East for progression and different salary packages.

Local Authorities in the North East were in competition for social work staff and North Tyneside endeavoured to be an employer of choice, offering investment in training and attractive work conditions.  North Tyneside was the only local authority in the north east who did not have agency social workers. 


It was explained that the Fostering Service had two teams offering services to both mainstream and connected carers, which included assessments, training and post special guardianship order support and that 93% of looked after children were with local authority foster carers. 


Reference was made to workloads and the Social workers stated that case work built up gradually, that it was a challenge sometimes but continuous support was available,case loads were risk assessed, concerns could be raised with line management and in the first year of employment an average of sixteen children were allocated to each Social worker. 


It was noted that following assessment, transitions for clients and families to a longer term social work team were inevitable but it was sometimes frustrating for families when they had built up a relationship with a social worker and the social worker was changed and that continuity was important.


The Social Workers commented that they hoped that the Council would continue to manage the case loads and offer assistance from experienced workers and that good quality training, salary and career progression and a friendly environment was important. 


A Social worker noted that the support received from staff was excellent and they welcomed using the Signs of Safety model to help support families. 


The Chair thanked Officers for the informative report and for members of the Social Work Team for attending the meeting.


It was agreed to note the contents of the report.



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