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1.7.4 Roles and Responsibilities of Social Workers


In October 2013, the Health & Care Professions Council Standards of Proficiency and Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics- Your duties as a registrant were added to Section 5, Children's Social Care Service Divisional Standards.


  1. Introduction 
  2. The Children, Families and Cultural Services (CFCS) Department Ambition Statement 
  3. Principles of the Children's Social Care Service (CSCS) Statement of Intent 
  4. An Overview of the Social Worker Role 
  5. Children's Social Care Service Divisional Standards 
  6. The Duties of the Social Worker
  7. Caseload Responsibility 
  8. National Guidance
  9. Local Guidance
  10. Contractual Guidance

1. Introduction

Social work is a professional occupation and, therefore, social workers are responsible for ensuring high standards of practice. They have responsibilities towards their own professional development and for exercising professional judgement. This document complements job descriptions, operating procedures and other guidance regarding the role and responsibilities of social workers and does not replace them. All workers are responsible for working sensitively with young people and their families, ensuring a high quality of delivery and making sure that the social care intervention improves the life situation of the children, young people and families concerned.

The requirements laid out in this document are underpinned by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) Code of Practice for Social Care Workers, or any code that may replace this, and the relevant job description of the individual social care post concerned.

This document should be read in conjunction the corporate competency framework (due to be implemented in 2012).

2. The Children, Families and Cultural Services (CFCS) Department Ambition Statement

We want Nottinghamshire to be a place where young people are safe, healthy and happy, where everyone enjoys a good quality of life and where everyone can achieve their potential.

3. Principles of the Children's Social Care Service (CSCS) Statement of Intent

Our work with children, young people and families is underpinned by the following guiding principles:

  • The principal focus of children's social care is to protect and support the most vulnerable children and young people in Nottinghamshire;
  • Our aim is to keep children at home in their families wherever possible and where it is safe to do so;
  • We believe that children should exit the care system by returning to their family or into alternative permanent placements, such as adoption, as quickly as possible;
  • We are committed to the provision of effective leadership for our children's social care service;
  • We will ensure that our children's social care service have the capacity to secure sustained improvement;
  • We will seek to identify and disseminate good practice, and to create a learning culture in children's social care;
  • We seek to maximise value for money and to be accountable to the people of Nottinghamshire for our children's social care service.

4. An Overview of the Social Worker Role

The vision represented in the Ambition Statement and the principles of the Statement of Intent centralise the young person, which is the core of the social work focus within the Children's Social Care Service (CSCS). It is the responsibility of the social worker to deliver the objective of this ambition, to form positive relationships with children, young people and families and to develop long-term solutions by providing support, advice and guidance.

There is a wide range of legislation and national guidance with which a social worker must be familiar. The social worker does not work alone, but there is a variety of other agencies in Nottinghamshire and there are teams within other departments who provide support in developing a coherent plan. The social worker works closely with children and young people referred to the CSCS as being potentially in need of additional support, as well as those 'Looked After' by the Authority. They build a supportive and trusting relationship with the young person and take lead responsibility for child protection. Their role includes protection and promoting health and development, as well as developing and implementing the plan, which seeks to improve the quality of life. The social worker cannot and should not develop the plan alone, but works with the birth family and subsequent carers, in partnership with other agencies, to address the young person's developing physical, behavioural, social, emotional and independence needs.

Social work duties typically involve:

  • Undertaking and writing up assessments, which meet specified standards and timescales;
  • Conducting interviews with service users and their families to assess and review their situation;
  • Offering information and counselling support to service users and their families;
  • Organising and managing packages of support to enable service users to lead the fullest lives possible;
  • Recommending and sometimes making decisions about the best course of action for a particular service user;
  • Liaising with, and making referrals to, other agencies;
  • Participating in multidisciplinary teams and meetings, for example child protection, children in need;
  • Maintaining accurate records and preparing reports for formal meetings, which may include reports for Court;
  • Giving evidence in court;
  • Participating in training, supervision and team meetings.

5. Children's Social Care Service Divisional Standards

Standard 1: We will provide a professional service and adhere to the General Social Care Council's code of conduct.


  • The allocated worker will protect the rights and promote the interests of service users and carers;
  • The allocated worker will strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of service users and carers;
  • The allocated worker promotes the independence of service users while protecting them as far as possible from danger or harm;
  • The allocated worker respects the rights of service users while seeking to ensure that their behaviour does not harm themselves or other people;
  • The allocated worker upholds public trust and confidence in social care services;
  • The allocated worker is accountable for the quality of the work and takes responsibility for maintaining and improving his/her knowledge and skills.

Standard 2: We will safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.


  • The child's welfare is paramount and central to all our actions;
  • Allegations of child abuse and neglect will be allocated within 24 hours;
  • Children will be seen on their own to ascertain their views, age permitting;
  • The holistic needs of children will be considered as part of our intervention;
  • Solution focused interventions and strengths based approach will be used to support the needs of the child;
  • Appropriate services will be accessed, clearly stated in a service plan, to support the child's needs.

Standard 3: We will work in partnership with children, young people (by engaging them in accordance with our corporate participation strategy), their parents/carers and other agencies to achieve positive outcomes for children.


  • We will treat all service users with respect;
  • We will inform service users about the purpose of our intervention, the reason for visiting, the nature of the assessment and a completion date;
  • We will take account of service users views, by arranging appointments at mutually agreed times and listening and responding to requests for support;
  • We will provide service users with copies of our completed assessments and service plans;
  • We will review services provided in light of changing needs of service users or at agreed set intervals;
  • We will consult with other agencies to seek their input to maximise support to benefit service users.

Standard 4: Administration systems are proficient and case files evidence how service user needs are being addressed.


  • Seeking feedback from service user;
  • Compliance with relevant legislation and policy, procedure and guidance;
  • Case files contain an up-to-date chronology;
  • Framework-I episodes, case recording, and assessments are completed within nationally and locally agreed timescales;
  • All recording is in accordance with the division's recording policy;
  • All records are signed (when copies provided to service users);
  • Assessments are based on fact and contain appropriate analysis;
  • Records make a distinction between professional opinion and fact;
  • Records contain clear evidence of the support service provided.

Standard 5: There will be managerial input and oversight of all cases to ensure they are being proactively progressed in achieving positive outcomes for all children.


  • Cases allocated to suitably qualified and experienced staff;
  • Supervision case records demonstrate whether records, assessments, plans and reviews have been read by the Team Manager;
  • Supervision records give direction to staff as to how to progress cases;
  • Details of decision-making processes at key points, i.e. allocation, initiating child protection procedures, case transfer and closure, etc.

Standard 6: Our services/intervention will take account of the diverse needs of service users and be culturally appropriate.


  • Our services are accessible to all sections of the communities we serve;
  • Service users are communicated with in their first language;
  • The specific needs of BME families are identified and addressed;
  • Service users are empowered to make positive choices;
  • Children have someone who can speak on their behalf;
  • All service users are provided with details of our complaints and compliments procedures.

Standard 7: We will develop service plans that achieve positive outcomes for children and review them to ensure they reflect children's changing needs and circumstances.


  • Plans are based on assessed need;
  • Service plans reflect needs and intended outcomes;
  • Children's parents/carers views are reflected in the plans;
  • Relevant partner agencies contribute to the plan;
  • Case recording evidences how the plan is being implemented;
  • Reviews are held at agreed and statutory intervals.

Health & Care Professions Council Standards of Proficiency

Registrant social workers must:

  1. Be able to practise safely and effectively within their scope of practice;
  2. Be able to practise within the legal and ethical boundaries of their profession;
  3. Be able to maintain fitness to practise;
  4. Be able to practise as an autonomous professional, exercising their own professional judgement;
  5. Be aware of the impact of culture, equality and diversity on practice;
  6. Be able to practise in a non-discriminatory manner;
  7. Be able to maintain confidentiality;
  8. Be able to communicate effectively;
  9. Be able to work appropriately with others;
  10. Be able to maintain records appropriately;
  11. Be able to reflect on and review practice;
  12. Be able to assure the quality of their practice;
  13. Understand the key concepts of the knowledge base relevant to their profession;
  14. Be able to draw on appropriate knowledge and skills to inform practice;
  15. Be able to establish and maintain a safe practice environment.

HCPC standards of conduct, performance and ethics

Your duties as a registrant

The standards of conduct, performance and ethics you must keep to:

  1. You must act in the best interests of service users;
  2. You must respect the confidentiality of service users;
  3. You must keep high standards of personal conduct;
  4. You must provide (to us and any other relevant regulators) any important information about your conduct and competence;
  5. You must keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date;
  6. You must act within the limits of your knowledge, skills and experience and, if necessary, refer the matter to another practitioner;
  7. You must communicate properly and effectively with service users and other practitioners;
  8. You must effectively supervise tasks that you have asked other people to carry out;
  9. You must get informed consent to provide care or services (so far as possible);
  10. You must keep accurate records;
  11. You must deal fairly and safely with the risks of infection;
  12. You must limit your work or stop practising if your performance or judgement is affected by your health;
  13. You must behave with honesty and integrity and make sure that your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession;
  14. You must make sure that any advertising you do is accurate.

6. The Duties of the Social Worker

The duty of all Nottinghamshire County Council employees is to manage the resources of the Authority in an effective manner. This includes service delivery, consumable resources, information systems and personal conduct. The workers take their lead from the managers, who therefore should exemplify the behaviour, attitude and appearance that they expect of their staff team.

The foundation of all practice within the Authority is embodied in its Equality Policy. This affirms the commitment to ensuring that the workforce is fit for purpose, empowered and actively contributes service improvements. On this basis, the Authority commits to:

  • Striving to ensure that the workforce reflects the diversity of the communities it serves;
  • Ensuring that policies, procedures and practices are applied fairly and consistently;
  • Ensuring that all members of the workforce are treated fairly and respectfully;
  • Ensuring that employees treat service users fairly and respectfully at all times;
  • Taking appropriate and immediate action to challenge and address any inappropriate behaviour or discrimination;
  • Ensuring that all of its workers include discussion about fair treatment and considering individual needs during the annual Employee Performance and Development Review.

Worker responsibilities are segregated into generic Authority expectations and service-specific expectations. Guidance is provided here of the expectations of workers in all aspects of their role. Both aspects of expectations and requirements are outlined below and are complementary to the Health and Care Professions Council's Standards of Proficiency.

7. Caseload Responsibility

Individual social workers have the responsibility for managing all aspects of the cases allocated to them by their line manager; this includes ensuring that service, divisional and departmental procedures are followed, as well as legislative requirements.

  1. The social worker is expected to demonstrate competent case management through ensuring that :
    1. They have a clear understanding of the objectives and standards of the CSCS and being committed to meeting these;
    2. An effective plan is produced that has involved the child, parent/carer and all necessary teams and agencies;
    3. They identify clear aims and objectives for each social work visit;
    4. Assessments are clear, focused and centralise the young person;
    5. Visits are undertaken at the frequency required (see the operational procedures) and that both announced and unannounced visits are carried out: Nottinghamshire Intranet;
    6. Direct contact with young people is made during social work visits and that the young person will have the opportunity to speak alone regularly with the social worker;
    7. They are fully acquainted with all aspects of the case, including history, nature, legal elements and statutory demands;
    8. They inform their Team Manager of any changes in the case that may affect risk, need or the plan;
    9. Multi-agency and core group meetings take place as required and are recorded appropriately within the established timescale. The social worker is responsible for ensure plans/minutes are distributed appropriately;
    10. They liaise with colleagues and agencies to develop the most effective plan for the young person.
  2. The social worker must ensure that cases are properly assessed by:
    1. Completing a clear and focused assessment of the holistic needs of the child within an agreed and required timescale;
    2. Using the Assessment Framework to establish a clear picture of the child and family environment and situation;
    3. Working with partner agencies and teams to develop the most effective holistic plan for the child and family, as required by "Working Together 2015".
  3. The social worker must ensure that each case is reviewed appropriately by:
    1. Meeting all statutory, divisional and departmental timescales for the reviewing of cases;
    2. Informing Team Managers immediately if the meeting of these timescales is threatened;
    3. Presenting clear written assessments, as required, to case reviews and case conferences, with full analysis, recommendations and a proposed action plan.
  4. The social worker must ensure that cases are appropriately recorded by:
    1. Ensuring that case notes are entered into Framework-I within the set timescale;
    2. Making necessary entries into the chronology facility of Framework-I;
    3. Producing written summaries, as required.

8. National Guidance

Statutory requirements for Children's Social Care come from legislation, principally the Children Act 1989, Adoption and Children Act 2002 and associated regulations and guidance. The worker is required to ensure compliance with all statutory requirements, supported by their line manager where necessary. Clarity and direction can be found in the Authority's policies and procedures on the Intranet.

It is the duty of all social care staff to familiarise themselves with the governing legislation and national guidance, and to ensure that they apprise themselves of any changes to these. Examples of such guidance includes:

  1. The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 2: Planning, Placement and Case Review;
  2. Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015.

9. Local Guidance

PPG Operational procedures manual: the policy and procedure guidance as to how social care should operate. Every worker has a duty to be familiar with this and comply with this established Authority procedural guidance. The operational procedures guidance manual specifies how social workers should execute their function and is to be found via the Intranet.

The manual is web-enabled and hyperlinked where required to the most current legislation, guidance and documentation.

Training: social care workers are professional employees and, as such, have a duty to ensure that their knowledge and skills are maintained at the highest level. It is the responsibility of workers to undertake update training and knowledge refreshment on a regular basis, as well as scanning the professional field for changes to legislation and guidance Training is built around good practice and learning from training is to be evidenced in evolving and effective practice. Line managers may also require that workers attend specific training. Authority training is available through the Learning and Development System (LDS).

Assessments for children and young people are subject to clear timescales for completion. It is the duty of every social worker to ensure that they are aware of these and consistently meet them: see Child in Need Plans and Reviews Procedure.

Safeguarding and child protection are automatic duties placed upon every social worker. Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of young people is protecting them from maltreatment, preventing impairment of young people's health or development and ensuring young people are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care. Child protection is a part of safeguarding and promoting welfare; it refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect specific young people who are suffering, or are likely to suffer, significant harm. By proactively safeguarding and promoting the welfare of young people, the need for action to protect young people from harm is reduced.

Child Protection Procedures are very clearly defined in legislation, national guidance and are presented very clearly by the Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB).

Maintaining case notes: all social workers have to maintain case notes. These are maintained on the Authority's electronic database, Framework-I. Case notes related to child protection should be completed within 24 hours and all other entries should be completed within 7 days.

Evidence is a crucial area of the work of the Children's Social Care Service. It is imperative that workers record all their decision-making and reasoning clearly on Framework-I system for subsequent reference, monitoring and to direct future decision making.

The CSCS has clear guidelines concerning the way case notes should be recorded and the timeline for updating after contact. Every social worker should be familiar with the policy, which can be found in the PPG operational procedures manual: Written Records.

Training is available to all social care staff on how to use the Framework-I system, which can be booked through the Learning and Development System.

Support in the use of Framework-I is available via the Intranet.

For support in specific aspects of Framework-I, there is a series of guides available on the Intranet.

10. Contractual Guidance

Positive and appropriate working relationships: all staff members are expected to establish and maintain effective working relationships and to understand that they are operating as part of a team towards the achievement of improving the lives of young people and of outcomes set by the Authority. Workers should feel that they are operating in an encouraging work environment that motivates them and enables them to develop ideas and practice for improving the Children's Social Care Service.

Health and safety: the work environment for all workers should be safe and there should be an annual risk assessment conducted annually. If a worker has any concerns, these should be raised at the earliest opportunity with their line manager.

Induction: a common induction process was introduced to the Children, Families and Cultural Services Department in April 2010. This programme sets out what new members of the workforce need to know and introduces the philosophy of integrated working. All new workers are entitled to an appropriate departmental induction that outlines the expectations of the manager, the division, the department and the Authority. Details can be found on the intranet or through the Learning and Development System (LDS) training programme, accessed through the intranet:

Accessing LDS

Probationary Review: all new entrants to Local Authority employment will be subject to a six-month probation period, with a first formal review two months after commencement in post, and the second no later than five months after commencement in post.

Leavers: any departing worker is responsible for ensuring all issued equipment (mobile telephone, laptop computer etc) is returned in good working order. All leavers should be requested to undertake a leaver's meeting, where the leaver's questionnaire is completed. The departing employee may request that someone other than the line manager conduct the leaver's meeting.

Leaving the Authority

Annual leave: managers are responsible for approval of all annual leave requests, including special leave. Workers have to understand that the provision of the service must not be impaired through staff shortage, therefore it is not guaranteed that a leave request will be granted. Special leave includes time off for service in the volunteer reserve forces/territorial army (TA) leave, religious leave, compassionate leave, unpaid leave and convalescence.

Working time: workers are obliged to comply with the working hours specified in their contract and with the European Working Time Directive (EWTD). Some workers may be asked to work additional hours, for which Time Off in Lieu (TOIL) will be agreed. TOIL should be agreed in advance and should be not be a regular feature of the staff working week. Where special circumstances dictate, workers may request flexible working arrangements and home working. Flexible working entails agreeing to a regular adaptation of the standard working arrangements of staff, such as earlier start and finish times or a non-working day (this is not the same as flexi-time). Home working is the approval for staff members to work from home as an approved working base, either on occasions or as a part of the contracted agreement.

European Working Time Directive (EWTD)

Flexible working: Request for flexible working process and timescales / Flexible working request form

Working from home

Flexi-time scheme: Flexi-time Scheme - Guidance for managers and staff

Supervision: the corporate policy states that the frequency of supervision should be every six weeks, as a minimum, for one to one meetings. The supervision agreement may also identify other methods where appropriate, for example group supervision. From July 2011, a supplement was issued specifically for CSCS that mandates supervision for all CSCS staff should be every four weeks because of the nature of the work and the level of support workers require.

Corporate supervision policy: Supervision policy

CSCS Supplement - operational procedures manual: Children's Social Care Supervision (Supplementary Policy)

Employee Performance and Development Review (EPDR) is required for all staff every year on a one-to-one basis, with a review meeting after six months. EPDR is not simply a review of the work completed over the past year, but a chance to recognise celebrate achievements at work, set personal targets, identify training and development needs, discuss how to improve the service and examine issues that may affect performance (including working relationships with other team members).

Training needs should be identified through the EPDR and review, including update training and any mandatory training. Training should be discussed by the manager with the perspective of what training the worker feels is required or desirable as well as what training the manager feels would be appropriate. Where training is specifically related to the function of the worker, time should be allocated by the manager for the employee to undertake the training. All training must be requested through and approved by the worker's line manager.

Competency Framework: the Authority has developed a Competency Framework to align each individual employee's activities to the Council's priorities, vision and values. Details of this may be found in the Managers' Resource Centre

Operational performance: managers have a responsibility to ensure the effective performance of the workers within their team. A range of processes have been developed to support both the worker and the manager where concerns or issues arise.

  1. Capability: if a manager considers the worker's performance is inadequate, the issue must be dealt with immediately.
    1. Informal process: Capability flowchart informal process;
    2. Formal process: Capability flowchart formal process.
  2. Attendance: the worker has a responsibility to attend work appropriately, according to their contract. Details of the attendance procedures are available on the intranet:
    1. Attendance recording: Recording Attendance Flowchart;
    2. Short-term absence: Short Term Attendance Management Process Flowchart;
    3. Long-term absence: Long Term Attendance Management Process Flowchart.
  3. Sickness absence: should a worker be unable to attend for work due to illness, they must contact their line manager at the first opportunity. The worker should speak to their line manager directly whenever possible. It is not acceptable to leave a message with an administration worker, to leave a telephone message or to send a text message. Details of the procedure are in the Personnel Handbook;
  4. Absence triggers: Trigger reports are issued monthly by the Human Resources team to Group Managers, who then disseminate these down to Service Managers. The report details members of staff who have met or exceeded the sickness triggers. An 'absence trigger' is when an employee has incurred:
    1. Ten days sickness absence (or the equivalent of two working weeks for part-time staff) within a 12 month rolling period; or
    2. Three separate occasions of sickness absence with a rolling 6-month period.

The Absence Management procedures are also applied to employees who demonstrate a sustained pattern of absence just below the target thresholds or where the employee appears to be having difficulty in attending work, for example possibly due to stress or other illness or where there is a reasonable suspicion of alcohol/ drug abuse.

Human resources procedures: managers have a range of personnel tools available to them in order to deal with team issues and inappropriate worker behaviour. These include disciplinary, harassment grievance procedures, which are designed to support workers and develop an effective team environment.

Escalating concerns: if a worker is concerned that their line manager has not responded appropriately or taken necessary reasonable action in a situation, they are entitled to escalate the issue to the tier above their line manager. The worker will be asked to prove that they have taken steps to address the issue with their manager prior to escalation.