Vulnerable young people should be able to access high-quality, effective social work. However, within the context of the West Midlands this is not always the case. This is a result of a number of interrelated factors, including a historically inconsistent practice application; high staff turnover affecting the continuity of relationships; difficulties in recruiting and retaining experienced staff and middle leaders; the recycling of staff around the region; and institutional challenges in building best practice. Within the region this is exacerbated by an over-reliance on agency staff, that deliver inconsistent quality in their service. This leads to an overly expensive workforce that underperforms and therefore delivers poor outcomes for children.
Our innovation will enable fourteen councils to establish ‘FutureSocial’, which is a regional social work academy. This will test out the effectiveness of a combined service structure, that involves: the delegation of some statutory workforce functions; a focus on specialist workforce areas of children’s social worker recruitment, retention and accreditation; and a partnership between the public sector, not for profit organisations, children and families.
FutureSocial has a sharp focus on two elements currently hindering high quality and innovative practice in the West Midlands region – recruitment and retention issues for both social workers and practice supervisors and high quality practice development and consistent implementation.
The establishment of a joint venture arrangement will enable all fourteen councils to test out a more effective and shared workforce development infrastructure that will act as a catalyst for change in the children’s social care workforce.
Strategic Support Manager, WM ADCS
WM ADCS: 14 Local Authorities across the West Midlands