The Executive Director, Wellbeing Care and Learning submitted a report that gave an update on the current situation in relation to Social Worker caseloads.
A report was presented to the Executive in August 2012 which described the situation regarding Social Work caseload pressures. The report stated that the Safeguarding, Intervention and Specialist Services were facing significant pressures. At the time cases were allocated to teams across the town, based on capacity rather than a geographical area. Social Worker caseloads were high and as a consequence, difficult to manage effective care planning for children.
In 2012 the report stated that high caseloads were leading to a range of retention problems as some staff found the workload was very demanding and sought alternative employment with Councils where there were small caseloads or increased salaries. To address the retention problem, there was an attempt to benchmark the size of an acceptable caseload; there was not a national definitive figure and comments made by Lord Laming
suggested an acceptable benchmark of 12 complex cases per experienced Social Worker.
The report provided details of the caseload review within Middlesbrough and the guidance which had consequently been issued.
A combination of measures led to an increase in the Social Worker establishment within Middlesbrough following the recruitment of an initial 11 extra Social Workers, bringing the establishment up to 111 Social Workers. This increase had a significant impact on caseloads and significantly reduced the use of Agency Social Workers as teams absorbed their own pressures. Agency staff were only used on exceptional occasions.
Whilst there continues to be a pressure on workloads the situation was much more manageable. Rather than setting a maximum ceiling for caseloads sizes it had become apparent that there was a more effective way of allocating work using national guidance.
That the contents of the report and the progress that had been made in managing and containing Social Workers caseloads be noted.
The decisions were supported by the following reasons:
It provides evidence that caseloads are safer and more manageable.
It demonstrates that staff recruitment and retention has improved.
Children and young people are receiving appropriate focused services.