Should children’s homes managers be qualified social workers and what does this mean in practice in a sector already struggling to recruit and retain staff at all levels?

On the back of recommendations from Sir Martin Narey’s report into residential social care in England, plans are afoot to encourage social work students to spend their placement experience in children’s homes. The government will explore how to best set an expectation that new residential care managers are social work graduates, while recognising that exceptional unqualified members of staff can make good managers. Although the government has said it is confident a graduate qualification is not necessary in England, it will monitor Scotland’s reforms to see if they provide better outcomes for children.

Since January 2015, staff working in children’s homes in England have been required to obtain the Level 3 Diploma for Residential Childcare, with managers required to hold the Level 5 diploma.

Scotland will require all staff in children’s homes to be graduates from 2018.

In a government-commissioned report published in July 2016, Sir Martin Narey made a number of recommendations about the training of residential children’s care staff, to which the government responded in December last year.

The government has said it will commission and disseminate qualitative research on best practice on recruiting staff, and work with awarding bodies to review the delivery of diplomas where online learning methods are used.

In his review, Narey highlighted the positive impact of further training and development approaches such as the RESuLT programme, training for children’s home staff developed by the National Implementation Service.

The DfE says it will ensure commissioners have the information they need regarding evidence based programmes and approaches that are likely to prove effective in developing staff. Narey’s recommendations around CPD have led to the development of new courses. Research in Practice, for example, has developed three new workshops for managers and practitioners in this field, in consultation with residential children’s homes. These cover issues such as CSE, relationship-based practice and supporting care leavers.

The DfE has approved standards for two new apprenticeships for those wanting to work with children and young people. The apprenticeships aim to give practitioners and managers a clearer career path and flexibility to move from one role to another in a changing sector.

Children, Young People and Family Practitioner is a Level 4 qualification for those who want to work in residential care or do community-based work with vulnerable children and families. Along the way, participants will either be expected to gain a diploma Level 3 qualification in residential child care or a Certificate of Higher Education in Working with Children, Young People and Families, a new qualification that has been developed in partnership with a group of higher education institutions. At the end of the course, they will be assessed on their knowledge, skills and behaviour.

The Children, Young People and Families Manager apprenticeship allows students to gain a Level 5 qualification in residential care leadership and management, or in leadership for health and social care. The trailblazer group is in the first stages of agreeing the assessment plans for these standards which will be quality assured by Ofqual.

Source – CYP Now