Central Bedfordshire Council has been named Best Social Work Employer of the Year

Central Bedfordshire Council has been named Best Social Work Employer of the Year in a national awards event.

The council’s Children’s Services saw off three other shortlisted local authorities to claim the prize at the Social Worker of the Year Awards on Friday night.

Judges praised the work done by Central Bedfordshire to ensure that social workers have manageable caseloads, good supervision and support with access to great learning and development opportunities and an excellent Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) programme for newly-qualified children’s social workers.

As part of Children’s Services’ ambitious transformation agenda, during the past three years, teams have been restructured into smaller units with non-caseholding managers. The result of this is that front-line social work staff now have manageable numbers of families to support and can devote more time to getting to know the children they work with, in turn building up positive and lasting relationships.

That has led to more social workers seeing the benefits of working for Central Bedfordshire Council, resulting in a quality and stable workforce rather than relying on agency staff, vacancy rates down two-thirds in just three years and a staff turnover of less than ten percent a year.

Sue Harrison, Director of Children’s Services, said: “I am delighted that the judges recognised the hard work which has been taking place to help us recruit and retain quality staff, and create an environment where our children’s social workers can really thrive.

“To win an award like this requires a whole-team effort and I would like to thank everyone who has played a part. We embarked upon some bold changes, such as involving members of the Children in Care Council in the social work recruitment process, significantly restructuring teams and also the way we work by getting partners involved.

“These changes allow front-line staff to spend more time helping children and families in need and develop their skills and training to do an even better job. While it’s great to receive recognition for what we do, we won’t stand still and will continue to work hard to do the best job for those who need our help.

“Congratulations too, to Jason Sedgman, Senior Practitioner in the council’s Children with Disabilities Team, who received a silver award in the Children’s Social Worker of the Year category. His dedication to the children and families he supports was praised by the judges as an example to all.”

For more information about the awards and a full list of winners, visit www.socialworkawards.com