Memorandum submitted by the

Children's Workforce Development Council 9CWDC)

 

 

1. The Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) exists to improve the lives of children, young people, their families and carers by ensuring that all people working with them have the best possible training, qualifications, support and advice. It also helps children and young people's organisations and services to work together better so that the child is at the centre of all services.

 

2. CWDC has a number of roles, including working as a Sector Skills Body, leading workforce reform and as a funding body for Early Years Professionals.

 

Our goals are to:

Strengthen workforce excellence through the creation of new training opportunities, career development and flexible career pathways between different parts of the children's workforce

Ensure that all workers have appropriate skills and qualifications and work to increase recruitment into the children's workforce and improve the retention of high quality employees

Help the workforce deliver joined up services and improved communication across the sector. Continue to recognise the unique qualities and contributions of individual professions

 

3. Our submission focuses on workforce implications arising out of the White paper and we would wish to highlight 2 key messages.

 

The need to develop a career development framework for all those in social care.

The need for graduate led professional leadership.

 

4. The move to earlier and more focussed intervention around the child or young person and their family is to be welcomed. (Children's Plan - building brighter futures - December 2007)

 

Everyone working with children and young people has a responsibility to provide the very best for them. Children and young people and their families who are in receipt of social care are often among the most vulnerable of our communities. They need to know that those working with them understand their needs, respect them and are trained appropriately. (Dr, R. Morgan Children's Rights Director. CSCI February 2006, NCB report Findings from consultations with young people on the CWDC Options for Excellence Review March 2006)

 

Options for Excellence, the joint DfES /DH review of the social workforce set out a vision for the workforce for the 21st century. "A professional workforce , where all workers are trained ,skilled , appropriately qualified, held accountable for their actions and committed to delivering an excellent standards of care". (Options for Excellence, Building the Social Care Workforce of the Future, October 2006).

 

5. A Career Development Framework For Social Care

 

In making provision for the delivery of social work and social care services it will be important to ensure that social workers, residential workers, foster carers, Independent Reviewing Officers and others are appropriately skilled to do this. All services whether delegated outside of authorities or not, need to be able to demonstrate clear workforce planning and development processes that set out core skills and training.

 

A comprehensive career development framework would set out an overarching framework for all staff in children's social care. This would set out the core behaviours, minimum skills and knowledge expected and likely career pathways from induction onwards. The framework would clarify the entry points at a range of levels and set out core and specialist units required for those working with vulnerable children & young people. The framework would set out continuing professional development requirements for newly qualified social workers, higher level skills and knowledge for experienced workers and specialist practitioners. It would also set out core standards for foster carers, residential workers and other key workers such as family support workers and domiciliary care workers who work with children.

 

The framework would reflect the vision set out within the Childrens Plan for a minimum of level 3 entry into the workforce and describe possible career progression routes through to graduate professional leadership. (The Children's Plan December 2007)

 

6. A recent study commissioned by CWDC was undertaken by the National Centre for Residential Child Care (NCERCC) in partnership with Social Care Association (SCA). The study explored the relevance of training and qualifications to meet the needs of young people and the staff who care for them. The study highlighted a need for core modules supplemented by specialist subjects that will provide the Residential Child Care workforce with a range of skills relevant to the complex needs of young people in residential care. (Training & Qualifications in the Residential Sector, final draft, December 2007 NCERCC/SCA).

 

7. The Training, Support & development Standards for Foster Carers were launched in May 2006 for full implementation form April 2008. The Social care framework would build on these initial standards and set out additional skills for further complex work in foster care (Care Matters: Time for Change, June 2007).

8. The framework is the first stage in raising the skills and competence of the social care workforce and will assist employers in workforce planning and identifying the training needs of their workforce. It would serve as an aid to recruitment and retention, giving employees clear messages about what they can expect in terms of their own development. Building their confidence and providing them with opportunities to work towards higher levels of attainment and thus increasing the quality and competence of the service. . High quality services are characterised by robust workforce development, training and management development. (CSCI 2007).

 

8. The Need For Graduate Led Professional Leadership

Options for Excellence made clear the importance of strong leadership and management. The Children's Plan strengthens this in setting out the aim to build a world class workforce. The need for leaders who can deliver excellence in their own institutions and who can work cross - organisationally to provide the best services to children and young people.

 

9. Working with looked after children and young people who are looked after or on "the edge of care" (Care Matters) is a difficult and challenging job. Workers need to feel that they are appropriate supported by their managers and organisations to discharge their responsibilities well. The recent independent inquiries into child abuse cases in Wakefield and at Westminster illustrated the need for strong leadership in decision making and the need for managers who are skilled in performance management and partnership working.

 

10. The social care professional development framework would also ensure that practitioners working in complex areas of services were able to progress to graduate level. Social workers who are already at graduate level would be expected to progress to higher level skills and knowledge, residential workers and others should also be able to develop specialist skills and knowledge leading to graduate level.

 

11. Championing Children is a framework that establishes a shared set of skills, knowledge and behaviours for those who are leading and managing integrated children's services. It provides a common understanding about the particular abilities required by leaders and managers of these services. Individuals, teams and organisations can use this document as a planning tool to help develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours necessary. (CWDC)

 

12. A whole systems approach to workforce development is clearly linked to improved outcomes for those using services. The Commission for Social Care Inspection found that a key characteristic which distinguished 3 star councils was "strong management and leadership and a political commitment to social Care." These councils were found to have excellent judgment in leadership and an ability to implement professional standards irrespective of whether the services were in house or commissioned externally. (CSCI 2007) Leaders and managers must be in a position to demonstrate their competence and confidence at the highest levels, particularly in developing and supporting integrated working. All managers in social care must therefore be able to demonstrate the same high level skills in practice, decision making and organisational development alongside their colleagues in integrated settings. e.g. early years, teaching. They must therefore be graduate professionals or be supported to work towards a graduate professional status.

 

13. (Care Matters, Time for Change, Children's Plan) CWDC `s work taking forward Championing Children will support this.

 

14. CWDC looks forward to working with DCSF and others to take forward these key areas of development.