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First social worker practice set up in South West
Release date: Wed, 04/07/2012
Social workers set up first practice in South West
Children in care will benefit from quicker decision making thanks to a new pilot project being launched in Bristol on Wednesday 4th July.
A new Social Work Practice, named Vista, is launching in Bristol as part of the national Social Work Practice Pilot. Vista is made up of a team of children in care social workers from Bristol City Council, who have set themselves up in a similar arrangement to a GP surgery.
It is expected that Vista, the only practice of its kind in the South West, will benefit up to 150 children or young people in Bristol, giving them a bigger say in the decisions made about their care. Services are designed to be more streamlined and less bureaucratic.
Bristol’s children’s social workers were invited to consider taking part in the pilot scheme last year. Ten staff have transferred, with the social workers taking their current case-loads, which they will be able to manage flexibly between them.
Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, Cllr Clare Campion-Smith, said: “Children in care often tell us they feel frustrated by delays to decision making on their behalf and can’t always talk to someone they know when they want to.
“This new pilot will help social workers maintain contact with the same child from when they come into care to the point where they leave and will enable them to manage more responsive working hours. Social workers will be able to make more immediate decisions when funding is involved, rather than referring decisions to managers.”
Janet Ashmeade is a senior social worker who has worked with children and young people in the Bristol area over the last 20 years. She has transferred to the new practice with nine colleagues from the Avonvale Road office.
She said: “I see a real opportunity here to do things a little differently, that will help engage with the young people we work with.
“We can invite the young people to our building, rather than having to take them to a café. If they need to see me and I’m not around, over time they will get to know the team, so there is always someone available who they feel confident talking to. The team are currently developing systems which will give workers in the practice the authority to make decisions about funding for a young person, in a much quicker way, without layers of bureaucracy, which in the past has lead to unnecessary delays.”
“It is early days yet, but we are all excited about how our new practice will develop.”
Children, young people and their carers whose social workers have moved to Vista’s new premises in Easton have already had the opportunity to visit and have been telling social workers how they want their services to run.
Tom Cyster, aged 17, lives with a foster carer in Bristol. He said: “I’ve been along to the practice and it looks like it’s going to be great. There are more resources on hand and it is a better environment for meeting up with my social worker. Before there have been times when I haven’t been sure where to go. This gives me a whole new option of where to go to get support and find some space.”
Vista will be responsible for the day-to-day support for children in long-term care as a company owned by Bristol City Council. It has its own board of directors and will be run as a not-for-profit company, committed to improving the experiences and outcomes of children and young people growing up in care and empowering social workers to do their jobs more effectively.
They are based in a new building in Easton, designed to be homely and welcoming, with space for children, parents and carers to visit, run activities, or to use as a quiet area.
Notes for Editors:
1. The DFE announced in January 2011 that Bristol would receive £100,000 towards setting up the pilot.
2. Around 100 cases transferred to Vista on 16th April 2012 and it is anticipated that 150 cases will transfer by mid 2013. The pilot will run until November 2013.
3. Staff who have transferred to Vista include one team manager, two senior practitioners, four social workers with their case loads, one social work assistant and an administrative support worker.
4. Currently there are 220 social workers in Bristol working in child protection and 650 children in care. In line with national trends, the number of children entering care is increasing.