Northamptonshire County Council seeks social workers

Alex Hopkins
Image caption Director of services Alex Hopkins wants qualified social workers "who can hit the ground running"

A children's services department criticised by Ofsted has launched a recruitment drive for experienced social workers.

Northamptonshire County Council was inspected in February 2013 and arrangements for protecting children were found to be "inadequate".

The council has restructured children's services and pledged an extra £12m.

Director Alex Hopkins said he wanted to replace more than 60 agency staff with professionals employed directly.

Of 260 social worker posts in children's services 25% are agency workers and half of these are in senior qualified positions.

Mr Hopkins said it was relatively easy to recruit newly-qualified social workers but they required intensive training and heavy supervision until their skills were built up.

'Significant change'

"I am looking for staff that can hit the ground running," he said.

"Last year, the county's arrangements for the protection of children were judged by Ofsted to be inadequate."

The council then restructured its social care services and changed working procedures.

Mr Hopkins described it as a period of "significant change" when the council used agency staff to fulfil safeguarding duties.

"Currently one in every four posts in children's social care is filled by an agency worker," he said.

"We have laid the groundwork for a new working culture.

"The council is focusing on recruiting experienced permanent staff so that new practices can be fully embedded consistently across the county's child protection and safeguarding teams.

"This is a great opportunity for experienced staff to contribute."

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