The Wigan MP told an NSPCC conference in London on Friday (19 April) that while she welcomes the government’s reforms of child protection, more action was needed to support social workers.
She revealed that Labour is considering various ways of boosting children’s social work although firm proposals and details about how they would be funded were not yet in place.
“I welcome the thrust of Eileen Munro’s reforms on social work but we should do more to support the profession,” Nandy said.
“The chief social worker post will do much to boost the profession, particularly given that so often when crises hit, it is the social worker that is attacked.
“But pay and conditions are really important.
“International studies show that working conditions in teaching and social work are the most important factors in boosting the status of the professions and bringing more good people into them”.
Nandy added that more needs to be done to support social workers once they are in post.
“The real challenge is not about attracting good quality people, but how you keep those people in social work,” she said.
“Turnover is a huge problem and burnout is a serious issue. Six out of 10 social workers consider their caseloads to be unmanageable.”
Nandy also hinted that a Labour government would widen the entry criteria for a proposed new programme for attracting top-level candidates to the profession.
She said that while she supports the proposed Frontline programme – a graduate fast-track scheme similar to Teach First – she fears it could miss potentially outstanding candidates.
“Many of the best social workers come from a background of needing the help of a social worker themselves, and might not have gone to the top universities,” she added.
“It is really important that you don’t exclude good-quality people because of that.”
This article first appeared in Children and Young People Now