Lack of officers leave families in Sheffield waiting too long for support they need

A new report by Sheffield Council experts has revealed there are not enough staff to meet the demand of increased numbers of families who require support.

Support teams work with Sheffield City Council to provide support to families across the city who are experiencing various problems such as poverty and mental health issues.

During a council meeting held by a sub-committe for children and families, a representative from the support teams explained that they do not have enough officers to be assigned to new vulnerable families.

Helen Sweaton, representative of the support teams, said: “The number of key workers we think we need has increased. We are still working with the same amount of children and families, but we know that there are additional children and families that we would like to give that same level of support to.

“There are currently around 470 staff, with 250 of those doing the key working role and we want to increase that by at least 60 people. The remaining officers have been working closely with schools to identify the children who need support at the very earliest opportunity.

“The skills these officers have gained by providing guidance to professionals can now be used to act as a key worker for some of our most complex families.”

Before the first lockdown support teams were working with a total of 2,572 children and they were able to stay in contact with all of these families, making on average 600 contacts a week including phone calls, virtual meetings and door stop visits.

Since the start of the pandemic, support teams are still working with the same families so there hasn’t been much space to provide support to new families.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “We are always saying that we need more money in children’s services because we know that we have more demand and the complexity of children’s needs even before the pandemic were rising further during it.

“We need more money so we can train new workers.”

Written by Molly Ashman

Student Journalist. Work experience at West Midlands paper, the Express and Star with three published articles.

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