Great residential child care needs great residential child carers – Government already knows the answers to the recruitment shortfall in residential child care
The Government already have the answers to the problem.
It’s a sad but evidenced fact that the low social mobility children in care suffer stems from others actions or inactions, and society’s inequalities. Here’s one action that Government can take to put something right.
The Government has a long-term objective to transform the life chances of children and young people with low social mobility. They are doing so by a focus in 12 Opportunity Areas. NCERCC thinks it needs to take its learning to residential child care too.
The approach of the Opportunity Areas convenes resources, uses evidence-based approaches, uses new approaches to unlock barriers.
The quality of residential child care staff recruitment is an important aspect of the quality of care.
Great residential child care needs great residential child carers. They have a life changing impact on the settling, recovery, and development of children.
NCERCC have been talking at jobs fairs for a long time. Our pitch is this
“Some of you might want to be scientist, or sportspeople, or teachers, or engineers, but think of a job where you could do all of these – before lunch! That’s residential child care. It’s the best job in the world”.
As James Anglin said, “Child and youth care is not rocket science; it’s far more complex than that.”
The Independent Children’s Homes Association recently reported the difficulties regarding recruitment. “Children’s homes are struggling to recruit staff, with people reluctant to work in the sector and qualified staff being poached by other establishments”. Children’s homes ‘struggling to recruit staff’ | CYP Now They explain that the national recruitment shortage contributes to turnover of staff as providers compete.
For 2 decades NCERCC has urged government to lead a national recruitment campaign for residential child care, as they have for teaching, adoption and fostering.
There are key features in the Opportunity Areas that translate across to residential child care. It requires a combination of a bespoke and place-based approach with incentives and initiatives to boost recruitment from within and outside of the Opportunity Area, and a well-staged professional development and career pathway to encourage those appointed to want to stay
An important action for Government ministers to counter the undervaluing and underappreciating of this work and workforce. Recognition of the work is an important platform to attract new people.
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services campaign regarding a lack of homes to meet rising demand.
Homes need people. A consistent supply of good residential child care staff is needed.
The Care Review has recommended new funding for local authorities to open homes.
These homes need staffing. The need for a recruitment and workforce development strategy is essential.
To reiterate key features: a combination of a bespoke and place-based approach with incentives and initiatives to boost recruitment, and a well-staged professional development and career pathway to encourage those appointed to want to stay
In the Opportunity Areas local partners act together to attract, retain, and develop the very best people. There are local partnership boards with a shared ambition to deploy great staff to raise the attainment of the most disadvantaged.
Recruiting to a low pay challenging job is complex and must overcome multi-faceted obstacles.
Some learning from the Opportunity Areas
- a collaboration with recruitment experts delivering a co-ordinated, regional effort, using financial incentives, promotion of place, and a digital-first approach.
- incentive grants alongside other initiatives to boost recruitment to rural areas.
- For retention, establishing a collaborative network to share good practice.
- Undertake forensic analysis of the issues and then narrow the big challenges to the doable. Sharp focus is key to successful planning and implementation.
- Secure engagement through listening and tailoring programmes to meet the individual needs of candidates.
- Work collaboratively and not competitively. Strengthen partnerships to adopt a coherent approach.
- In a collaboration everyone wins no one competes – sharing what works is a winning strategy
- Continuous Professional Development is key to retention.
Achieving success in recruiting residential child care workers is much more than filling a job vacancy. It is about recruiting the best, developing them and retaining them. It is also about encouraging applications from those who want to reach out to children in challenging circumstances and creating the gateway to opportunity. Inspirational people in inspirational and aspirational places.
For more details on how the opportunity areas work see Opportunity Areas Insight Guide – Teacher Recruitment and Retention, and Workforce Development (publishing.service.gov.uk)