The measures announced by children’s secretary Ed Balls will build on the findings of Lord Laming’s recent progress report on the social care sector, and aims to provide more investment in training and support for frontline social workers, as well as greater public scrutiny of the service.
Balls said: “Our ambition is for social work to be a high-quality profession, with the confidence and support of the public, but to do this we must give social workers the training and support they need to develop and become a confident workforce.
“This package of support lays the foundations for a radical transformation of the social work profession and significantly improves training and career opportunities. I want every social worker to be proud of the contribution they make and for every child to get the protection they deserve.”
The six-point plan includes sponsorship of 200 university places on social care conversion courses from September to help graduates from any discipline join the profession, and a new practice-based Masters in social work to start in early 2011 to help social workers continue their development.
New recruits will also be given more access to supervision and continued training during their first year through Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSW) pilots, which will be set up for all recruits joining statutory and voluntary services this September.
A new recruitment campaign aimed at encouraging 500 social workers who have left the profession to return will also be initiated with support to help link returners with vacant posts, and provide refresher training.
To prevent more experienced social workers leaving the profession in the future, an Advanced Social Work Professional Status programme will also be created to enable social workers to continue developing within the profession.
The new reforms will be overseen by Roger Singleton, the new chief adviser on the safety of children, in association with the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit.