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BCP Council social worker recruitment 'in worst position ever'



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SOCIAL worker recruitment in the Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole area is thought to be in the worst position it has ever been.

BCP’s children’s services is currently operating under the direction of the secretary of the state after being rated 'inadequate' across a number of areas, writes Trevor Bevins of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Cathie Hadley, recently appointed director of children’s services, told a meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee that the service was struggling, both because of an international shortage of qualified social workers and because of the service’s rating.

BCP’s social workers were also said to have a case load higher than neighbouring councils
BCP’s social workers were also said to have a case load higher than neighbouring councils

Neighbouring Hampshire County Council has an 'outstanding' Ofsted score and Dorset Council is 'good'.

BCP’s social workers were also said to have a case load higher than neighbouring councils and the national average, although Ms Hadley described the situation as “reasonable”.

She told the meeting that if changes currently being put in place worked, recruitment problems would ease.

The meeting heard that eight social workers had recently been recruited from Rwanda, which has a similar social work training framework, from of an international group of 35 applicants.

“We are looking at different ways of recruiting – growing our own, becoming an employer of choice; sometimes it is not about money, it could be working a 9-day fortnight,” said Ms Hadley.

Many of the current vacancies are filled by agency workers, which not only costs the council more but causes uncertainty because they can leave at short notice.

The authority is hoping that new partnership training with Bournemouth University, and better support for aspiring managers will help attract more staff.

A Partnership Academy, mainly online, is now running to support social worker training.

The 2021/22 budget allowed for a £3m spend on agency staff including 20 managers and 40 social workers, although the council has a policy to reduce agency staff numbers.

The overview and scrutiny meeting heard that the service would have its annual "conversation" with Ofsted in the coming days and another monitoring visit in June.

A report would come from that but was unlikely to be made public.

The service is currently being assisted by senior social work staff from HCC to make the changes needed to reach the next rating of 'requires improvement'.



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