Children’s social care sector “pushed to brink” during lockdown, study reveals

Children’s social care workers are facing workloads up to 50 per cent greater than pre-pandemic levels, a major study has revealed.

The research, published by industry analyst Community Care, is among the first to highlight the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the children’s social care sector.

According to the research, more than half (56 per cent) of children’s social care workers say their current caseloads are “hard to manage”, while an alarming 23 per cent say theirs are “completely unmanageable”.

Conversely, just four per cent say caseloads are “comfortably manageable”, while 18 per cent say caseloads are “mostly manageable”.

It means that over three quarters (79 per cent) of social care workers now struggle with caseloads, compared to 72 per cent last year.

The Community Care study also found that the average full-time practitioner was burdened with an average of 23.9 cases – well above the official 16.3 estimate given by the Department for Education (DfE) in September 2020.

Commenting on the figures, Gavin Moorghen, of the British Association of Social Workers, said: “Children and families don’t want tired social workers, they don’t want social workers who are burnt out.

“But that’s the position that they’re being put in and, with the best will in the world, too much pressure means that, long-term, you’re not going to get the best outcomes for children and families and that’s where our concerns lie.”

Unison’s national officer for local government, Gill Archer, added: “Demand for services has soared over lockdown, while coronavirus has meant more staff have had to take time off sick or to isolate. This means that those who are able to work face an unbearable caseload.

“The sector needs urgent funding from the government, or many staff will find it too difficult to continue in their roles.”

Click here to access the full study.

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