Call for urgent improvement in social services

There is an urgent need to improve the recruitment, training and morale of
social workers to prevent further tragedies such as the death of Victoria
Climbie, according to a report published this week.

The report, by the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS), calls
for comprehensive reforms to the way social services are delivered, including
significant changes to HR management.

It comes less than a week after Carole Baptiste, the senior social worker in
charge of the Climbie child abuse case, was found guilty of failing to help the
inquiry into the eight-year-old’s death.

The ADSS report also recommends a reduction and refocusing of social
workers’ workloads, to give them a greater capacity to handle the highly
complicated and high-risk childcare cases they have to deal with.

ADSS president Michael Leadbetter claimed HR in the social services had
suffered 10 years of "woeful under-resourcing", and staff needed
improved pay, conditions and esteem.

Commenting on the report’s findings, head of HR at Worcester County Council,
Dilys Wynn, said people management issues were often overlooked.

"The focus and investment in people management over the past 10 years
has been poor and budgets have been stretched," she said.

She explained that HR alone would not improve morale, but it could help by
outlining measures to deliver improvements.

Wynn also stressed that social work’s poor public image needed to be tackled
through improved salaries, reduced workloads and better support for staff
involved in traumatic cases.

"It [social work] has not had a particularly good outing in the public
eye over the past few years and the number of young people looking for careers
in social services has dropped by as much as 40 per cent," she said.

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