Byline: sarah richardson
Local government is responding with renewed vigour to the challenges it faces in protecting children and young people from abuse and neglect.
after widespread criticism of the actions of Haringey children's Services following the tragic death of Baby P and ongoing concerns with child protection in Doncaster, for example, the local Government association, which represents councils in England, has launched the first ever national campaign to respect, recruit and retain child social workers.
council leaders highlight that, while there has been consistent improvement in recruitment and retention over the past few years, there are still problems that need to be addressed.
In the aftermath of Baby P, council leaders are deeply concerned that the fallout from the case will lead to a decline in respect for child social workers, a wave of departures from the profession and a difficulty in attracting new candidates.
cllr Margaret Eaton is chairman of the local Government association (lGa). She says: "These sad events... shine a light on the enormous responsibility councils bear in working with the most vulnerable children and families, and the equally difficult responsibility we ask children's social workers to carry on our behalf.
"It is a tough job to do, and for councils it is the toughest job to fill..
Being a children's social worker is one of the hardest jobs in Britain. There are real difficulties for councils in recruiting and retaining high-calibre child social worker staff.
"We must look to the future and recruit and retain staff so that they can protect the most vulnerable children in society and stop preventable deaths." In its report, Respect and Protect, published earler this month, the lGa shows that one in 10 child social worker posts are vacant at any one time, and that of those councils who experience recruitment difficulties, 89 per cent had trouble recruiting experienced children's social workers.
around 5,500 child social workers are agency staff and, in london, all boroughs reported they used agency staff to fill vacancies.
Earlier this month, lord laming called for a step change in leadership and practice to help protect children from harm when he published his report into how children's services have progressed since 2004.
His far-reaching report, The Protection of children in England: a Progress Report, was commissioned by the children's Secretary Ed Balls last November and looks at children's services across England. …