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Services for children to benefit from overhaul
TWENTY-FIVE new social workers will be recruited by Worcestershire County Council as part of the biggest-ever shake-up of children’s services.
Five senior managers are being axed and the overall number of social workers will be increased 20 per cent to about 150.
The huge investment comes two years after safeguarding children’s services in Worcestershire were lambasted by Ofsted inspectors and deemed to be failing.
It also follows the infamous Baby P case, which caused a root-and-branch national review into the way children at risk of harm are protected.
The shake-up, which has been labelled “transformational” by the county council, also includes spending:
- £48,000 on two ‘emotional behavioural difficulties’ units where youngsters get intensive help to overcome their problems
- £21,000 on providing four extra foster care placements with Worcestershire families
- £106,000 on strengthening the outreach service, where expert staff go into homes to help vulnerable families.
As part of the massive overhaul a new IT system will be established which aims to speed everything up.
The changes, which are partly being implemented to prevent more children going into expensive care homes run by outside agencies, will be implemented next year.
Formal consultation will take place between now and January with the managers affected.
Bosses say the changes will reduce bureaucracy, increase the amount of time social workers spend with families and accelerate the process for discharging children.
It is likely some of the new social workers will be given roles working with adults, but a large proportion of the recruits will be earmarked to help vulnerable children.
The cull of five senior managers, leaving the service with eight, is estimated to save about £217,000. The rest of the funding will be found from the general budget. The council has not said how much it will cost to recruit the new social workers.
Councillor Liz Eyre, the cabinet member responsible for young people, said: “What we will do is truly transformational – these are big changes. It’s about cutting bureaucracy and making sure we spend more time with children.”
Coun Adrian Hardman, county council leader, added: “We still have a long way to go, but we are committing serious cash to this.”
County Hall is trying to save at least £90 million by 2015/16, including 857 job losses, but admitted last week the cuts are highly likely to top £100 million.
Despite that, it has continued to increase spending on vulnerable children and social care in general.
In the spring it was rewarded for that policy when Ofsted upgraded safeguarding children’s services to adequate.
Read the Worcester News comment here