Workload pressure on Calderdale's social care teams above national average

Princess Buildings, Halifax.
Princess Buildings, Halifax.

Children’s social care teams in Calderdale are performing well even though their workloads are more than the national average.

A report considered by Calderdale Council’s Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel heard the pods centred at bases including Todmorden, Elland, Threeways in North Halifax and Princess Buildings in Halifax town centre and working with vulnerable children and young people were rising to workload challenges.

Councillors asked officers questions about issues including recruiting, workloads faced by newly qualified social workers, the impact they were making on youngsters’ lives, the effect the amount of time they were able to spend with each person and if that affected outcomes, turnover of staff, management support, and how the council’s effectiveness in these areas could be measured.

The report says that: “Despite the demands and pressures on services, performance remains strong in terms of completing asessments and planning for children in a timely way.

“The service has a strong performance management culture and responds to the different pressures that arise through the flexibility of the staff and number of cases allocated.”

National children’s social workforce statistics show that the average caseload of a children’s social worker is 17.8 cases each, varying from 10.2 per social worker at Kingston Upon Thames and Richmond Upon Thames and 26.4 for Staffordshire staff.

Calderdale has set a cap of 23 cases to be the maximum any social worker should hold and members were shown the numbers for each team and cavancies which were being recruited for to fill the necessary gaps.

Referals have increased in the weeks through August with board members provided with the following information.

In the child sexual exploitation team each social worker was dealing with 18 cases.

Newly qualified social workers had a caseload of 24 each while more experienced social workers were dealing with 27 cases each.

In the Children in Need and Child Protection teams, the work was in the range of 19 to 21 (15 to 19 for those newly qualified), Looked after children’s teams have an average of 15, the

Disabled Children’s Team an average of 21 and the Pathway commissioned service for care leavers an average of 18 cases per social worker.

The board was supplied with the figures for neighbouring Bradford which showed the average caseload for newly qualified social workers there was 19.6 – and they had recruited an additional eight social workers to reduce their figure to that level.