Disparity in staff investment for adults' and children's services
Staff shortages in children's departments are being tackled with a Pfund73m cash boost, but similar problems in adults' services are overlooked, finds Andrew Mickel
No one is under any illusion that there is not a shortage of children's social workers in the UK. But the common assumption that the problem is less severe in adult care is undermined by exclusive research by Community Care which shows that the difference between vacancy rates for children's and adults social workers in England is narrower than is widely assumed.
However, the investment being put into the workforce bears little relation to the balance of vacancies on the ground. Some Pfund73m has been committed by the Department for Children, Schools and Families to developing children's social workers as part of the Children's Plan from 2008 to 2011. That was even before the Baby P fallout focused the minds of council chiefs on doing something about shortages.
Sums and plans
But there are neither grand sums of cash nor similarly structured plans for developing the adults' workforce - and other agencies remain similarly focused on the children's workforce. Only in March, the Local Government Association launched a campaign to lure back 5,000 professionals who have recently left children's social work.