In the news today, the BBC suggest that with almost a fifth of all children’s social worker posts in England are currently vacant, with many councils are reporting problems in recruiting and retaining their staff. Is this the case in Cornwall?
Cornwall’s children’s social care service currently has 225 full-time equivalent children’s social workers, with vacancies filled by agency social workers. Around 10% of Children’s social workers are agency staff, which is lower than both the South West and the national average.
In trying to address any potential problems in recruitment Cornwall Council has developed an innovative approach that provides local solutions to a national issue.
The recruitment of social workers who have the values, motivation and passion to make a real difference to families in Cornwall has been at the heart of the reform programme within Children’s Early Help, Psychology and Social Care Services over the last four years.
In Cornwall Council are committed to those who want to work with our most vulnerable children and young people and have developed a ‘grow your own’ approach where the Council offers opportunities for local people who are living in and are committed to Cornwall to train to become social workers. This has proved to be very successful, with around 18 people training to become social workers at any one time.
The success of our “grow our own” scheme means that we have been able to recruit and retain high quality staff who are working very hard to keep our children and young people safe. We are also seeing applications from experienced staff in other parts of the country who are impressed by what we are doing in Cornwall.
As well as offering placements to students and running our trainee programme, the Service also attracts experienced social workers through its excellent skills based, evidence-informed learning and development programme, with access to post-qualifying accredited learning in our partnership with Plymouth University.
The Council has established Career and Qualification Pathway that promotes learning and practice, and rewards the most experienced social workers who stay in practice. This summer we will launch our ‘Return to Social Work’ scheme to offer opportunities for those who have had a break in their career to refresh their knowledge, skills and practice.
As the Lead Member for Children’s Services at Cornwall Council I want to acknowledge the fantastic job in what can often be difficult and challenging circumstances and I would like to publicly thank them for their hard work and commitment.