A new report by OFSTED has highlighted how the pandemic has exacerbated long standing staffing challenges in children’s social care
The report finds that the staffing issues are having serious consequences on the number of suitable children’s home places available and the different needs staff are able to support. As a result, some children are living in places where their needs are not being met, and in some cases are being placed in unregistered homes, without regulatory oversight. High numbers of agency social workers and high caseloads are also preventing purposeful work with children and families.
The report also highlights the issues caused by home working with consequences on poorer peer support and for learning and development opportunities for social workers and other staff.
The report says ‘Face-to-face interaction with colleagues is particularly important for newly qualified social workers, who have mainly operated in pandemic conditions and have had limited opportunities to interact with, and learn from, experienced colleagues. Staff training continues to be mostly online, despite concerns that it is less engaging for staff and reduces retained learning.’
Ofsted Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, said:
“Children’s social care has been plagued by workforce challenges for some time. But we have seen these issues accelerate in recent years, with more social workers moving to agency contracts, and residential workers leaving the sector entirely.”
“As a result, too many children, with increasingly complex needs, are not getting the help they need. A workforce strategy and improved support for disabled children and those with mental health needs, and their families are more urgent than ever.”
Read the full report here