Over the past few months, there has been an effort in Manchester to reform services for children with disabilities (CWD) and their families. As part of this wider reform, it has been proposed that the specialist social work services for CWD will be de-centralised from one central social work team to three social work teams within the three localities: North, Central and South Manchester. Many children currently have social workers outside of specialist services and this plan is being put in place to optimise knowledge and expertise within each locality. That is, this new structure will allow specialist social work services to be better able to share knowledge and expertise with their peers outside of the specialist team.
We welcomed this initiative but raised concerns about any negative effects that might come with the changes, particularly around changes in staff assigned to families. We hear from a lot of parents and carers that the constant turnover of support workers can be disruptive. Whilst it may not be possible for all families to retain their current social worker, in response to our concerns, we have been reassured that any changes will be in consultation with families and any transitions will be fully supported.
The social workers previously based in the single central team have now all moved into their respective locality teams. There will be some changes to allocated social workers in order to align each child to a suitable social worker within the locality where they live; however, changes will be implemented over a period of time in line with natural points of transfer and in consultation with children and their parents, education and health professionals.
The movement of social workers from the specialist and locality teams under one structure will enhance overall capacity and align all children with disabilities to one manager in each locality.