Dozens of Derbyshire's children's social workers quit

Dozens of Derbyshire's children's social workers left their jobs last year, figures show.

Monday, 28th February 2022, 3:34 pm

Unmanageable caseloads and deteriorating working conditions have contributed to thousands of child and family social workers across England quitting their jobs, according to the British Association of Social Workers.

Department for Education data for Derbyshire shows that 72 full-time employees left their jobs in the year to September, among 290 to have done so since 2017.

The figures show that 57 of those who left last year had been in their roles for fewer than five years, and 25 for under two years.

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Unmanageable caseloads and deteriorating working conditions have contributed to thousands of child and family social workers across England quitting their jobs, according to the British Association of Social Workers.

Across England, the total number of social workers rose by 2%, to 32,500, in the year to September but 5,000 social workers assigned to support children and families left during that period: the highest number in five years and a rise of 16% on the year before.

More than two-thirds of them had been in their role for under five years.

Anthony Dhadwal, senior press officer for the British Association of Social Workers, said the association had warned the Government for years over a lack of support for new social workers and the number of experienced staff leaving the profession.

He added: “Time and time again the reasons our members have given have remained consistent – unmanageable caseloads, deteriorating working conditions and a lack of resources to help families.

“Without a fully staffed and resourced workforce, we risk social workers not being able to meet their obligations as individuals, and teams will be overstretched."

Mr Dhadwal said a record number of vacancies within the sector came as no surprise.

There were more than 6,500 vacancies counted last September – with 45 advertised in Derbyshire, down from 53 in September 2020.

At 15.4%, the national turn-over rate was also the highest recorded since 2017, with the rate in Derbyshire standing at 17%, up from 14.2% recorded the year before.

There were 53 new starters last year, bringing the number of full-time child and family social workers to 425 – much higher than the 327 recorded five years previously.

The figures are not limited to those leaving the profession entirely and may reflect social workers moving between different local authorities or into different fields of social work.

The BASW has called for a strategy to address disparities across England and tackle "pinch-points" in places with increased caseloads and high vacancy and turnover rates.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said that there were more social workers in the profession than ever before and added that the Government was helping local authorities to retain and recruit social workers by funding fast track training and professional support.

She said that local authority councils had access to mental health services to help social workers remain resilient and stay in the profession, with peer-to-peer support available for those who want it.

She added: “We recognise the pressure on children’s services, which is why we are providing councils with £4.8 billion in new grant funding to help maintain vital frontline services, including children’s social care.”