Today the Department for Education (DfE) published their new consultation Child and Family Social Worker Workforce Government Consultation Response. It focuses on how the DfE can practically implement proposed new rules for the child social care workforce that will come into force later this year.
The rules being consulted on cover the engagement of agency workers in the child social care workforce. The following proposals have been confirmed:
- Regional price caps for agency workers will be encouraged under new statutory guidance. National price caps have been decided as too difficult to introduce, instead neighbouring regions will be encouraged to collaborate to align rates.
- Agency workers will be required to have the same notice period as substantive staff in the same local authority. Local authorities will be obliged to enforce notice periods.
- A cooling off period of 3 months will be introduced for substantive staff to move into agency work.
- Care workers will need 3 years’ post-qualified experience before they can move into agency work.
- Project Teams will be allowed to continue; an original proposal to ban them has been dropped.
Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO at the REC said:
“The potential impact on recruitment and retention in children and family social work is what matters most here, and that will be what the REC keeps front of mind as we work with DfE and our members on next steps. An REC survey of social workers last year found that 40 per cent would be unable to take on a full-time permanent position even if they wanted to. Any changes mustn’t make it even harder to recruit into the sector and provide services to vulnerable people.
“We need to recognise why agency social workers exist in the first place – they want to work flexibly, in a job and sector that demands a lot from them.
“It’s essential that the proposals around notice periods and three years post-qualifying experience take account of the needs of the workforce, as well as service users, and that we avoid inhibiting staffing in emergency situations.”
As part of the consultation process, the REC and its members will be meeting with the DfE to discuss our recommendation on how to apply the new rules.