Just one newly qualified social worker quit in a year following the launch of a scheme to help them cope with the demands of the job.
Surrey County Council joined forces with Kingston University to help newly qualified social workers get to grips with the stress of keeping children safe*.
In 2011, only one left out of an intake of 43 and 15 part-time and agency staff took permanent roles**.
In the first year, the scheme features mentoring from senior social workers and trainers as well as group sessions.
Expert staff talk through challenges faced and give advice on tackling issues, policies and procedures while the get-togethers allow ideas, skills and experiences to be shared.
Social workers then switch to the university to complete further studies focusing on practical learning.
Last year, Surrey was believed to be the first council nationally to complete ‘health checks’ on social workers with union Unison. Together they looked at workload, training, management and support for staff working with children.
Mary Angell, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “Everyone knows how difficult it can be to find your feet in a new job and for social workers this also involves the hugely important task of making vulnerable children’s lives better.
“They do a taxing job on a daily basis, often in difficult circumstances, from the off and this scheme reflects the importance we attach to giving them the best possible support and supervision.
“It has proved a great success for all involved – the newly qualified social workers, the council and, most importantly, the children and young people they help. The knock-on effect has been a significant drop in the number of vacancies we have overall for social workers.”
Last month, Children’s Minister Tim Loughton officially launched the council’s savings scheme for children in care.
* Launched after a survey by the council’s HR department showed that more than two-thirds of new social workers found coping with the work more difficult than expected.
** In 2010, five out of 30 newly qualified social workers left in the first year.