Barnsley social workers see drop in caseloads following inspection
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In March, the council was told by Ofsted that it needs to improve its service for youngsters leaving care, noting that it had been ‘weakened’ by ‘workforce challenges and workload pressures’.
Barnsley Council implemented a plan to improve its care leavers service in November, which included a one-off investment of £6.5m, and £2.5m funding per year.
Members of the assessment team have now seen their average caseload reduced by 54 per cent – from 37 in June 2022, to 17 in March 2023, according to a report into the service.
“We know that there is more work to do, as caseload levels still fluctuate due to demand and social care teams still find it difficult to recruit experienced social workers. However, since June 22, caseloads have reduced,” adds the report.
“Our recruitment and retention strategy includes a rolling advert for social workers (our hardest to recruit group), alongside targeted recruitment adverts and a dedicated recruitment officer to support our activities. We know that our agency numbers are still high at 22 per cent.
“We are showing positive changes with fifteen agency workers transferring to permanent posts across the service. Our retention rates of case-holding social workers have improved and absence levels have reduced or maintained across the service.
BMBC has also set a maximum of 20 children for experienced social workers and 14 children for newly qualified social workers.
The council is currently looking for properties to expand its social care provision, including accommodation for those aged sixteen plus, and specialist residential care.