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Social work services still under strain

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
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Social work services still under strain

THE huge strain placed on social work services in Dumfries and Galloway during the pandemic are set to continue in its aftermath, the region’s social work boss has warned.

Lillian Cringles, the council’s chief social work officer, has given frequent updates about the increased workloads, staffing problems, and financial shortfalls her department has faced because of the covid crisis, writes local democracy reporter Marc Mclean.

While restrictions across the country were eased this week, she insisted that the pressures of delivering key social work services, including foster care and looking after vulnerable adults, are certainly not easing.

In her annual report for 2020/21, due to be tabled at the council’s social work committee next Tuesday, she wrote: “This report reflects on some of the challenges we have faced in continuing to deliver a social work service whilst dealing with the ongoing global pandemic.

“As we continue to respond and deal with the aftermath of the pandemic, the challenges for social work will be significant.

“The evidence suggests that there will continue to be an increased demand for services which will place a significant strain on staff and resources.”

With two months still remaining in this financial year, the report provides a breakdown of startling figures for 2020/21.

The social work department handled 81,010 calls – which is equivalent to 222 per day.

A total of 14,436 calls were received out of hours – which equates to 40 per day. These calls progressed to 5375 social work case referrals and led to 273 callouts.

Meanwhile, the total number of referrals for social work support for adults, families, and children was 22,217.

The annual report states that this was a five percent increase on the previous year, adding: “The active workload across the service reflects a significant increase as we focused on ensuring that those already known to the service were supported to manage the changing situation and their concern about the impact of the virus, as well as dealt with people through shielding and test and protect support making contact for the first time.”

The council’s ongoing struggle to provide enough foster homes, which is currently being addressed by offering increased renumeration, was also highlighted in the report.

Other key figures in relation to youngsters, as of March 31, 2021, were: 315 children in care, 153 foster carers in 71 foster households, 20 emergency transfers of children, and eight children were adopted.

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