National Care Service - children's social services: overview

Overview of social services provided to children and families in Scotland. It forms one of a collection of contextual papers about social care and related areas in Scotland, linking to the National Care Service consultation.

This document is part of a collection


Workforce

This section relates to the workforce involved in the processes described above, using SSSC sources. Where possible, the most recent available data is reported.

9.1 Headcount and composition

In 2020, the overall headcount for children's social services was 15,830 – a 5% increase since 2015 (Table 10). The two largest subsectors in children's social services were residential child care[21] (accounting for 55% of the total headcount), and fieldwork services[22] (accounting for 37% of the total headcount). The Public Service Reform Scotland Act 2010 distinguishes between registered care services on one hand, and social work services (of which fieldwork services are the essential part) on the other.

Since 2015, the greatest percentage increase in headcount was observed in residential childcare (+13%). Meanwhile, the greatest percentage decrease was observed for fostering services (-14%).

Table 10. Workforce headcount 2015 and 2020
Children's service 2015 2020 % change since 2015
Adoption 460 420 -9%
Fieldwork 5,960 5,920 -1%
Fostering 980 840 -14%
Residential child care 7,650 8,650 +13%
Total 15,050 15,830 +5%

This excludes:

  • personal assistants employed directly by recipients of self-directed support (SDS) - these are thought to work primarily with adults;
  • "headquarters" staff in private and voluntary sector care providers who aren't employed directly in a registered care service; and
  • staff employed by private and voluntary sector providers which have been commissioned by local authorities to deliver some of the local authority's social work functions.

Headcount of filled posts; a small amount of double-counting of individuals may exist. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10 which means that individual columns may not sum to the totals. All estimated total staff figures are rounded to the nearest 10 to express the uncertainty inherent in these estimates.

Between 2015 and 2016 the headcount of staff working in children's social services decreased slightly, before gradually increasing thereafter (Chart 13).

Chart 13. Workforce headcount, 2015-2020
This line graph shows the number of people in the workforce in children’s services between 2015 and 2020. Broadly, it shows that the number of people in this workforce has increased.

9.2 Employer type

In 2020, 58% (9,120) of children's social services workforce were employed by a public employer, 27% (4,250) were employed by a voluntary sector employer, and 15% (2,450) were employed by the private sector (Table 11).

Table 11. Distribution of workforce headcount by employer type 2020
Children's service Public Private Voluntary Total
Adoption 330 - 90 420
Fieldwork 5,920 - - 5,920
Fostering 430 - 410 840
Residential child care 2,440 2,450 3,750 8,650
Total 9,120 2,450 4,250 15,830

Headcount of filled posts; a small amount of double-counting of individuals may exist. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10 which means that individual columns may not sum to the totals. All estimated total staff figures are rounded to the nearest 10 to express the uncertainty inherent in these estimates.

Since 2015, the distribution of workforce across the public, private and voluntary sectors has remained relatively stable (Chart 14).

Chart 14. Distribution of workforce headcount by employer type, 2015-2020
This bar chart compares the distribution of workforce headcount by employer type. Broadly, it shows that the workforce breakdowns across Public, Private and Voluntary sectors have remained relatively consistent.  That is, the largest proportion of workforce are employed by a public sector organisation, followed by the voluntary sector, and then the private sector.

9.3 Residential child care services

This section focuses on additional data breakdowns for residential child care services sub-sector. Please note that the more detailed breakdowns are only currently available for 2019. This sub-sector includes:

  • Care homes for children and young people – provide care and accommodation for looked after children with no specific further needs.
  • Residential special schools – provide care and accommodation for children with additional educational needs.
  • Secure accommodation services – provide care and accommodation for looked after children in a secure environment.

In 2019[23], 8,420 staff worked in residential child care services, with the largest proportion (68%) working within care homes for children and young people (Chart 15).

Chart 15. Distribution of services by service type
This pie chart shows he distribution of services by service type. The order of the most to least common service type groups were as follows: care homes for children and young people (68%), residential special school (27%) and secure accommodation services (5%).

Of all residential child care staff, 29% were employed by a public sector employer, 27% by a private sector employer, and 43% by a voluntary sector employer.

Table 12. Distribution of services by service type and employer type in residential child care, 2019
Service type Public Private Voluntary Total
Care homes for children and young people 2,440 1,790 1,510 5,740
Residential special school 0 510 1,750 2,260
Secure accommodation service 20 0 400 420
Residential child care 2,460 2,300 3,660 8,420

9.3.1 Post characteristics

The majority (67%) of staff in residential child care worked in a full time post, with a median of 37 hours worked across all staff. Further breakdowns by service type are presented in Table 13.

Table 13. Percentage of staff by part time/full time in residential child care, 2019
Service type Part time Full time
Care homes for children and young people 36% 64%
Residential special school 29% 71%
Secure accommodation service 20% 80%
Residential child care 33% 67%

In terms of job function, the majority of residential child care staff (86%) constituted care staff. A smaller proportion included auxiliary staff (8%) and managers (6%). Further breakdowns by service type are presented in Table 14.

Table 14. Percentage of staff by job function in residential childcare, 2019
Service type Auxiliary Care Managers
Care homes for children and young people 4% 90% 6%
Residential special school 16% 78% 6%
Secure accommodation service 22% 73% 4%
Residential child care 8% 86% 6%

In terms of contract type, 80% of residential child care staff were on permanent contracts. Further breakdowns by service type are presented in Table 15.

Table 15. Percentage of staff by contract type in residential child care, 2019
Service type Permanent Other
Care homes for children and young people 79% 21%
Residential special school 81% 19%
Secure accommodation service 84% 16%
Residential child care 80% 20%

Other includes the following type of contracts: temporary, bank, sessional, casual/relief, as well as other/not known.

9.3.2 Demographics

The median age of staff in residential childcare was 42 years. Further breakdowns by service type are presented in Table 16.

Table 16. Median age of residential child care workforce, 2019
Service type Median Age
Care homes for children and young people 42
Residential special school 40
Secure accommodation service 33
Residential child care 42

The majority (70%) of the residential child care workforce were female. Further breakdowns by service type are presented in Table 17.

Table 17. Percentage of staff by sex in residential child care, 2019
Service type Female Male
Care homes for children and young people 73% 27%
Residential special school 65% 35%
Secure accommodation service 60% 40%
Residential child care 70% 30%

9.4 Fieldwork Services

This section draws from Local authority post types tables published by the SSSC, the most recent of which relates to 2020 (as at first Monday in December). Please note that these figures are different from those reported for 2019 as these relate to different published data and time periods.

This data includes all filled posts in local authority social work services where those employed do not work in a registered care service. This therefore covers staff working primarily in fieldwork social work services.

In 2020, 5,916 staff worked in fieldwork social work services. The majority of this workforce were female (85%).

9.4.1 Post characteristics

The majority (70%) of staff in fieldwork social work services worked in a full time post. In terms of job function, 39% of the fieldwork services work force constituted main grade social workers and 17% included social work assistants. Proportions of other roles are summarised in Table 18.

Table 18. Percentage of staff by job function in fieldwork social work services, 2020
Role Number of staff % of all staff
Service managers 112 2%
Team leaders/managers 368 6%
Senior social workers 453 8%
Main grade social workers 2,292 39%
Advocacy/rights staff 13 0%
Senior occupational therapists 0 0%
Occupational therapists 14 0%
Other qualified fieldwork staff 846 14%
Trainee social workers 9 0%
Social work assistants 994 17%
Occupational therapists assistants 2 0%
Support services (including admin/clerical) 813 14%
Total 5,916 100%

This does not include central/strategic staff.

Contact

Email: SWStat@gov.scot

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