In response to endemic recruitment and retention problems within social work, the West London Social Work Alliance devised an ambitious initiative across eight local authorities creating a career pathway for child and family social workers through to front line team manager level. We examine the impact and effectiveness of two programmes and reveal a tendency for ‘role slumping’, whereby tasks and decision making are escalated inappropriately to higher levels. The resultant lack of clarity about roles and responsibilities can also have a more pernicious impact on the confidence and competence of those who should be performing these duties. Evidence showed these programmes increased the competence and confidence of delegates, confirmed by their line managers, but delegates also reported high job satisfaction, motivation and employer trust. The design of the training enabled improvements to be more effectively cascaded not just within one authority, but across all. Our evaluation reveals an array of tangible benefits for individuals and employers, but raises concern about the potential longevity of these benefits. The programme needed ongoing engagement and communication with managers and those new to the organisation concerning the programmes' content and there was no concurrent attention towards organisational push factors, which also contribute to staff turnover.
Bibliographical noteThis is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in the British Journal of Social Work following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version: Searle, R. and Patent, V. (2013) Recruitment, retention and role slumping in child protection: the evaluation of in-service training initiatives. British Journal of Social Work, volume 43 (6): 1111-1129 is available online at: http://bjsw.oxfordjournals.org/content/43/6/1111
- social work education