THE county’s stressed out social workers have seen their caseloads cut according to Herefordshire Council's interpretation of a new national poll.
Caseload reduction and management is a key element of plans to improve Herefordshire Council’s child safeguarding service currently rated “inadequate” by OFSTED.
Confidence in the plan’s progress sees the council making a new recruiting pitch to social workers this week, promising a working environment where recruits can “go back to their roots”.
On average, a social worker in children’s services can be expected to deal with dozens of cases at any one time, although this varies from region to region.
A cut in caseloads does not mean a fall in the number of child protection cases.
The results of a new national poll show the majority of social workers - 85 percent of respondents - have seen significant increases in caseloads over the last year.
Just two percent of respondents had experienced reductions in caseloads.
In Herefordshire, the council says, social workers fall into the two percent category as their caseloads have fallen from up to 35 cases per social worker last year to a current average of 16 cases.
Cllr Jeremy Millar, cabinet member for children’s services, said that as caseloads came down the emphasis shifted to recruiting and retaining “good quality experienced social workers” putting a management and administrative structure in place to support them.
“We’ve been changing the way we work, reducing caseloads, improving technology and streamlining business processes to reduce form filling. In short, we’re taking social work back to its roots by creating an environment that focuses on getting the balance right between care assessments and direct working with families.”
“Like other council’s across the country, recruiting experienced social workers is challenging. But by changing our focus, building a structure that values and rewards good practice and gives social workers smaller caseloads, we hope to attract some of the best,” he said.
The recruitment offer comes with a “golden hello” and relocation package. Loyalty payments are promised to those social workers who stay with the service for two years or more.