The consultation responses have been collated and next steps have been outlined following the recent consultation on the child and family social worker workforce.
The initial consultation which ran from 2nd February 2023 to 11th May 2023 requested views on proposals to introduce national rules on the use of agency child and family social workers in local authority children’s social care.
The independent review of children’s social care, published in May 2022, described the case to reduce overreliance on agency social work resource in order to provide more stable relationships for children and families and reduce costs.
This consultation invited views on a set of national rules on the engagement of agency social work resource covering:
- price caps on what local authorities may pay for an agency worker
- post-qualified experience needed for an agency assignment
- use of project teams
- references, notice periods, and movement between agency and substantive roles
- collection and sharing of pay and agency data
- adherence of procurement routes with the national rules
It was suggested that the consultation should be read alongside chapter 6 of Children’s social care: Stable Homes, Built on Love. The consultation can be read here.
On conclusion of the consultation, the Department for Education commissioned IFF Research to conduct a full independent analysis of the responses, which can be seen in the consultation analysis.
The next steps following the consultation include:
- A consultation on draft statutory guidance to underpin the national rules in spring 2024. Subject to this consultation, local authorities will likely have to comply with that statutory guidance in autumn 2024.
- Ongoing review of the efficacy of the national rules and carry out a further consultation prior to the introduction of any further restrictions to the use of project teams or replacement of regionally determined price caps with new centrally determined price caps.
- Comments received during the consultation will be used to help shape the consultation on draft statutory guidance. Key stakeholders will be further engaged ahead of the next consultation to develop and refine the technical detail of the statutory guidance.
You can read the full consultation responses here.