An additional 160 staff are to be recruited by Liverpool City Council to cut the caseload of children’s social workers by up to half.
An extra £7.7 million is to be invested as part of a wide-ranging restructure designed to improve support and enable staff to spend more time with young people and families, enabling them to develop meaningful relationships.
A report to the council’s Cabinet on Friday 25 January is recommending a restructure which will see an increase in the number of full time posts from 313 to 473.
They will include 115 social workers, 18 senior social workers and 22 deputy team managers – who will provide increased oversight and management of cases, for the city’s 1,250 looked after children.
It follows an Ofsted inspection of Liverpool’s Children’s Services last year which found that although the council has made improvements in supporting vulnerable young people, caseloads are too high.
The changes will reduce the number of children each social worker is responsible for and allow them more time to work with children, young people and families.
Cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Barry Kushner, said: “This is an unprecedented investment by this council in children’s services.
“No other council in the country is doing this, outside of a poor Ofsted inspection, and this shows our commitment to children and families in our city.
“This is despite being hit by a double whammy of austerity cuts imposed by central Government and a significant rise in the number of children coming in to care. Our staff have been really stretched as the number of children they are responsible for has risen significantly, and we have been unable to match it with increased resources.
“We know that if we are to continue to improve services for our most vulnerable young people, we simply must increase the amount of support we provide to staff and their families.
“This investment is crucial to delivering the quality of help and intensive support that our most vulnerable young people need, as well as retaining and recruiting the next generation of social work staff.
“Social work is a highly pressured job which can sometimes involve life-changing decisions for families, so we must give them the space and time to be able to do it to the best of their ability.”
Other changes will see new staff recruited for the Family Support Service, the introduction of a career structure for social workers, allowing experienced staff that do not wish to take up managerial posts to remain in front-line practice and mentoring other team members to improve social work practice.
The changes will be implemented over two years on an ‘invest to save’ basis, with the aim of reducing the number of children taken into care by providing better support, and helping those already in care on in to permanent homes or a return to their families.