[Louise Haughton, Principal Social Worker, to present report]
Louise Haughton, Principal Social Worker, introduced the annual report 2018-2019 and the main priorities which have been identified for action in 2019-20. The Principal Social Worker outlined the background to the decision following a review of child protection by Professor Munro in 2011 which proposed introducing the role of Designated Principal Social Worker. A key role of the position is to improve communication and understanding between social workers and senior management. The Principal Social Worker advised the panel that they had a successful adults and children’s social work conference in the year where the report findings were discussed. The conference discussed a number of topics such as youth violence and forced marriage.
The Principal Social Worker commented that there is a commitment to develop and support new social workers in response to the regional shortage. The Council has a stable workforce and there are plans to have more practice educators rather than students. The plan is to train 36 new social workers this year.
The Principal Social Worker discussed changes made to the draft report in response to previous comments from the panel, for example, showing the progress made and more detailed equalities information. A report detailing the changes will be presented to Cabinet.
The Principal Social Worker reported a significant reduction in the rate of employee turnover in children services workforce. Wolverhampton is now below the national average.
The panel discussed the difficulty in scheduling meeting dates so that panel members can consider the annual report before it is presented to Cabinet. The Director of Adult Services explained that timings could be changed to ensure the panel received the report earlier.
The panel suggested if the focus of the discussion should move to more strategic areas rather the operational matters. The panel suggested the panel in future should scrutinise the impact of the changes detailed in the report on particular groups rather than operational matters. The panel agreed that this themed approach could look at the support given to people with alzheimer’s and their carers as the first topic. The Director of Adult Services agreed to take this forward as action.
The Director of Adult Services commented on the positive impact of the work done by Principal Social Worker to raise issues of concern with senior managers and to offer appropriate challenge that can better support employees in front line services. The Director of Adult wanted to formally record the excellent work of the Principal Social Worker and her team in making improvements in children and adult social care services workforce through the ‘health’ checks work.
The panel welcomed the report and noted the progress made.
1. The Director of Adult Services agreed to review the timetable for presenting the Principal Social Worker Annual so that the panel can comment on the report before it is presented to Cabinet.
2. The Director of Adult Services to present a proposal for the panel to scrutinise the impact of the reported findings in the report on specific groups to the panel meeting on 16.10.19.