Kent County Council social worker concerns persist... despite £2,000 'golden hellos'
Recruiting social workers for Kent's vulnerable children is an ongoing problem (file picture)
Recruitment and retention of social workers remain a challenge for Kent County Council despite "golden hellos" on offer worth £2,000, according to Ofsted inspectors.
Attracting sufficient full-time permanent social workers to Kent was identified as a continuing problem for the authority in an Ofsted report into the quality of care for looked-after children in the county.
The report rated the overall effectiveness of children's services in Kent as adequate and said the authority was on course to improve.
However, the inspection team flagged up concerns about the continuing reliance on temporary agency staff to plug vacancies.
The report said: "Despite the introduction of a range of strategies, including overseas recruitment and targeted packages to encourage recruitment to specific areas of the county, achieving a suitably trained and experienced permanent workforce remains a challenge."
The authority had failed to reach a target that no more than 10% of its workforce should be temporary, Ofsted added.
"The difficulty in recruiting sufficiently skilled and experienced permanent staff is currently impacting adversely on the council's aspirations to develop and enhance social work practice," the regulator said.
Since 2011, KCC has offered a £2,000 "golden hello" to new social workers and has also offered lump sum bonuses worth £3,000 to those meeting targets to deal with cases.
Cllr Jenny Whittle (Con), cabinet member for children's services, said recruitment would become easier because the authority's reputation was improving.
She said: "When you have been given a poor rating in the past, it does make it much harder to recruit good staff who will stay with you.
"Now we are improving, recruiting good social workers on permanent contracts will become easier."
Cllr Jenny Whittle from Kent County Council
Ofsted praised the work KCC has done to tackle "a legacy of failures" within children's services.
Its report said the senior leadership team "had risen to the task, and demonstrates a firm resolve to deliver improved outcomes for children and young people".
It added significant achievements had been made to improve outcomes for children and young people.
At the same time, Ofsted said there was a significant amount of work needed to continue the improvement.
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