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Government introduces new performance indicators to track success of policies supporting vulnerable children

The Treasury has set four new performance indicators for vulnerable children that the Department for Education (DfE) will be expected to measure from 2022-25

The first of the four will set a target on the percentage of agency social workers in the children’s workforce. Whilst it does not say what would be considered a positive outcome for the measure it is likely that is intended to deliver a reduction in the number of agency social workers over the next three years.

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) welcomed the move, saying that “having a high-quality, established workforce” was important for authorities to provide “consistent, long-term support” to children and families.

Charlotte Ramsden, President of the Association said “The flexibility provided by the agency workforce can be useful in providing flexibility linked to short-term staffing pressures or in managing peaks and troughs in demand for our services. However, the market needs to be effectively managed to ensure it provides a quality, workforce which is good value for money.

“Local authorities face challenges with recruitment and retention of social workers and are keen to focus on sustaining a permanent workforce that reduces the need for agency spend.”

New performance indicators will also track the proportion of council children’s services rated inadequate, school absence rates for children in care, take-up of, and outcomes from, its Supporting Families programme for households with multiple needs, and the number of children waiting over 18 months to be matched with an adoptive family.