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County council is committed to doing more to support social workers

Coun Philip Owen, chairman of children and young people's committee at Nottinghamshire County Council
Coun Philip Owen, chairman of children and young people's committee at Nottinghamshire County Council

Over the past few years the demand for council services has grown by 70 per cent and that growth shows no sign of slowing.

Social workers tell councillors the benefits social work support officers (SWSOs) bring to children and families in helping make workers’ caseloads more manageable.

As councillors, we’ve listened to this and therefore are investing in more than 20 additional support officers as well as making the same number of temporary posts involved in a pilot project permanent.

The extra support will significantly free up social workers’ time to progress cases more quickly and improve practice and will reduce their average caseloads.

These new posts will also be potential applicants to ‘growing our own’ social workers by supporting local people from Nottinghamshire to study at degree level and become our next generation of qualified social workers.

Since the pilot period began in 2015, support workers have saved social workers almost a day per week doing tasks that don’t need to be undertaken by a qualified social worker.

Social work support officers will be introduced across all frontline teams from October, representing a significant financial investment by the council.

It reflects the priority for supporting and strengthening Nottinghamshire families and keeping children safe.

And at a time when the market for recruiting social workers is particularly tough, the council has also already recruited more than double the number of graduate social workers for 2018-19 than at the same stage last year and expects to recruit more social workers by the end of the summer.

The council has been working really hard to engage students earlier in terms of recruitment and offering them two social work placements during their degree rather than one which has helped them to get to know the council better and has encouraged more applications.