Assistant Team Manager – Looked After Children

Purpose of this Job

The Assistant Team Manager will be responsible for assisting the team manager with supervising, leading, and supporting a team of social work practitioners and support staff within a statutory child protection service area (ie: child in need, child protection, children looked after). Due to the nature of the work, you will be expected to work in an often stressful working environment and dealing with a variety of complex, risky, and diverse issues when supporting and safeguarding the many children and young people we work with.

You will be responsible for supporting risk management and decision making within the team. This requires you to have substantial knowledge and experience with professional standards for social work as well as the laws, statutory guidance, and local policies and procedures and to ensure these are being modelled and adhered to within the team.

In line with our Signs of Safety practice model, it is beneficial if you have previous training and/or experience working with a solution focused approach. This will highlight the importance of respectful and collaborative working relationships with families and professionals in order to bring about improved safety and outcomes for the children we serve. You will recognise both areas of strength and safety, as well as worries and danger which will then help inform the next steps in a child’s safety and support plan.

You will be expected to have a good breadth of experience working with children and young people and supervising other members of staff. You will be responsible for assisting with recruitment, retention, and support the ongoing learning and development of those within the team.

You will also contribute to the strategic oversight and development of the service. This will involve making contributions and giving feedback to the team manager on performance as well as promoting and implementing any agreed service or strategic improvement plans.

You will have a proficient ability to communicate in English and be able to influence others in an effort to help coordinate services and supports in the best way possible to keep children as safe and well cared for as possible.

You will have experience and need to help lead on making decisions about legal planning meetings and supporting practitioners with the court process, especially where care proceedings are necessary.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

To have experience with, or a willingness to be trained and learn, the Signs of Safety practice model and support this approach in all aspects of the work carried out by the team.

To have previous management or supervisory responsibilities of other practitioners or students working with children and families.

To keep apprised of the changing contexts, research, practice theories and statutory procedures that govern child protection work at the local and national level and to implement these within the team.

To support in the implementation of local policies and service improvement strategies within the team.

To provide specialist social work and child protection knowledge and advice to the team, service, and other multi-agency professionals that helps them better understand the diverse experiences the children and young people have that we work with and support.

To liaise, network, influence, and coordinate with other multi-agency partners to provide the best level of multi-disciplinary support to the children and families we work with.

To represent the local authority in a professional and competent matter, especially when making representations at court, with families, or with other agencies.

To work within the Council’s policies, procedures, values, and code of conduct at all times and to help support and ensure others within the team are aware of and follow these expectations.

To help ensure that timely response and action is carried out by the team to any contacts, referrals, allocations, complaints, information requests, child protection enquiries, court directives received, and plans for children.

To support the team manager with ensuring the practice and management oversight of all work and performance in the team is compliant with relevant laws, statutory guidance, and local procedures that govern children’s safeguarding, adult safeguarding, the social work profession, health and safety, employment law, human rights, and data protection.

To maintain regular supervision and appraisal of workers or students’ performance in your supervision group that includes case management oversight, timely decision making, the effective implementation of children’s plans, reflective space, respectful challenge, recognising areas of good and weak practice, and supports the ongoing learning and development of workers.

To assist the team manager with regular audits and review case work and records so that case notes are contemporaneous and sufficiently detailed, case summaries and chronologies are up to date, assessments and reports are completed to a good standard and are holistic, that plans are being actioned and monitored for progress, contingency plans are in place and utilised when necessary, the voice and best interest of the child is consistently evident, and decision making takes place at key points in the planning and review process for children.

To chair strategy, review, planning, professional, and network meetings as required.

To authorise expenditures on behalf of the team managers when required and within the prescribed budget so that a good balance is truck between supporting what is in the best interest of the child and spending public funds in the most responsible, effective, and efficient manner.

To work within the Council’s policies, procedures, values, and code of conduct at all times and to ensure you and the team reflect these when carrying out professional responsibilities with members of the public.

To assist the team manager to keep the team fully staffed by supporting the recruitment and interview process for new practitioners within the team and monitoring this in relation to changing circumstances (ie: workload fluctuations, worker illness or absence).

To be available after hours as necessary to support workers who may be dealing with crisis and casework responsibilities to safeguard children.

To deputise for the team manager as may be requested or required in order to carry out the smooth functioning of the team in support of its statutory responsibilities for safeguarding children.
Other duties as required necessary to carry out the smooth functioning of the service and to meet our corporate parenting and safeguarding responsibilities to children.

Learning and Development

To regularly review and reflect on professional practice along with colleagues and your line manager to identify areas of further professional learning and development.

To enrol and engage in regular training and learning opportunities, both internally and externally, in order to promote further professional development and practice.

To identify and engage in opportunities to share professional practice and experience with other colleagues, students and professionals to promote an ongoing learning environment.

To identify and support any learning and development needs for workers in the team.

Professional Capability Framework (PCF) Expectations for Social Work Managers

Social work managers lead, motivate, nurture and manage a team (social workers and others), ensuring the service provided is effective, and delivering positive outcomes. They do so by managing performance and quality assurance, resources and budgets, in partnership with others and key stakeholders. They are knowledgeable about managing social workers and others within single or multi-professional teams. They contribute and support the development of practice, procedures and policy and specifically the professional development of the team they lead. They are accountable for the practice of social workers within the team they manage, and provide or ensure effective professional and practice supervision, as well as performance appraisals, takes place. They support mentoring and coaching to enhance the quality of practice. They investigate complaints as needed. They seek to ensure team experience influences and informs the work of the organisation and that of other service providers, supporting and managing change as needed within their area of responsibility

Person Specification

Candidates should be able to demonstrate competent experience and capabilities in the following areas:

Promote and Govern Excellent Practice

Ensure that the safety, welfare and best interest of the child is central to the work undertaken by the team and its members.

Promote and support the use of the Signs of Safety solution focused practice principles in all work undertaken within the team and in decision making.

Promote and maintain a high standard of professional practice in the team through modelling good practice, regular management oversight, and motivating the team to perform at their best.

Review, revise, provide feedback and endorse key aspects of work undertaken by practitioners in the team (ie: assessments, S.47 enquiries, reports, court statements, children’s plans).

Promote, share and use research and professional practice theories within the team to inform the assessments and work undertaken with children and families.

A working familiarity with relevant laws, statutory guidance, local safeguarding procedures, or internal policies and procedures that govern the work that we do with children and families.

Where this is not always known, a demonstrated ability to seek out advice and guidance on where to find the relevant procedures.

Possess a relevant social work qualification (ie: DipSW or CQSW or degree in social work).

Are registered with the professional regulator for social work (Social Work England).

To possess an advanced social work or management qualification.

Have a good understanding of and ability to use IT systems, such as case recording systems (ie: Liquid Logic), word processing (ie: Microsoft Word), Email and Calendars (ie: Microsoft Outlook), Internet search engines (ie: Google or Bing), computers, mobile phones, and secure remote working systems (ie: Wifi, Citrix or Cisco VPN systems).

Developing Excellent Practitioners

Have a good breadth of experience working in a statutory child protection setting (ie: child protection, children looked after) and at least one year experience supervising practitioners or students within this setting.

Models and supports a continual learning environment that promotes the sharing of good practice, challenges weak practice, draws upon latest research or guidance, and creates a respectful culture of professional challenge.

Explores creative ways practitioners can learn from one another in the team and promote ways for sharing these learning experiences (ie: shadowing or joint case working).

Consistently identifies and recognises areas of good practice in supervision or when it occurs, not assuming this will always be known or appreciated.

Encourages practitioners to stretch themselves and their abilities through seeing their potential for further development and supporting this through regular feedback or learning opportunities.

Considers the importance of the child and family’s diverse cultures, faith, abilities, identities, and experiences in helping to understand the situation from their perspective to inform the best practice approach and support for the child and family.

Shaping and Influencing the Practice System

Promotes the use of Signs of Safety practice principles by creating an environment where workers feel valued, respected, and motivated, and translate these same values into their work with children and families.

Uses feedback received from children, families, professionals, and social workers on where things can be improved, reinforce what we do well, and encourage the team to work together to bring about positive service improvements and professional capability.

Contributes to the shaping, implementation, and review of relevant policies and statutory guidance whenever possible to help reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and promote professional judgement and good working practice.

Ability to develop and sustain multi-agency networks that help coordinate a diversity of support and understanding around the challenges children and families may face and how to best approach and support improved outcomes for them.

Effective Use of Power and Authority

Models a professional approach that promotes respectful challenge, allows others to admit mistakes, recognises good practice, and supports continual learning and development environment within the team.

Makes the best informed decisions by inviting the views of all relevant people (ie: the child, family, involved professionals, and social worker) wherever possible.

Able to exercise statutory powers to safeguard children by seeking legal advice and initiating legal proceedings where necessary in order to adequately protect a child from significant abuse or neglect.

Chair meetings and make decisions that seek genuine engagement from participants, collaborative working, and maintains a focus on the best interest of the child (ie: strategy meetings, core groups)

Confident Analysis and Decision-Making

Assist the team manager with the management oversight of all cases within the team to promote good practice, timely decision making, defensible decisions, and that children’s plans are implemented and regularly reviewed for progress.

Provide regular supervision that balances case management decision making with reflective space to explore the emotional and personal impact of practice and interactions with others, including dilemmas that may arise.

Using a Signs of Safety analysis to support defensible decision making (ie: exploring the worries, what’s working well, and what needs to change for a child in justifying decisions made).

Ensures contingency planning or the “what if” scenario is always explored with children and families and accounted for in children’s plans, including when things may get bad enough to warrant statutory intervention (ie: care proceedings).

Promote professional judgement and decision making by practitioners in the team wherever appropriate and avoids micro or direct managing of cases wherever possible.

Able to recognise which decisions are within the remit of the assistant team manager to make, and when decisions require further input or endorsement by the team manager, senior managers or decision making panels.

Purposeful and Effective Social Work

Ensure consistent use of solution focused questioning and a Signs of Safety approach in all areas of work, from face to face engagement with families to assessments and plans for children.

Encourage workers to consistently review assessments and plans in light of any progress or change of circumstances and be receptive to changing professional views and plans according to the changing needs of the child.

Solicits regular feedback from the children, families, and professionals we work with and being receptive to their views, acknowledging mistakes, and learning ways to continually improve practice and make things right.

Ensures all relevant family members (including fathers) and professionals are included, welcomed and their views listened to when working together in order to provide the best outcome for children.

Promotes the use of solution focused outcomes within children’s plans that are SMART, identify clear timescales and those responsible, and use of scaling questions to gauge the progress and effectiveness of support being offered.

Conveys clear expectations to the children and families we work with about what support or intervention we are providing (ie: child protection, child in need), when things “step up” or “step down”, and when cases are closing or transferring from the team. These are planned for and clearly explained, with case closures having a plan that the children and families can easily understand and continue to work on with their support networks.

Have a proficient ability to speak, write, and read in English, with confidence and accuracy, whilst using the right kind of vocabulary appropriate to a given situation without a great deal of hesitation.

Ability to listen to our children and families, understand their needs, and respond clearly even in complex situations.

Emotionally Intelligent Practice Supervision

Able to demonstrate a high level of resilience in stressful or crisis situations to be available to support workers and the team with clear guidance and direction.

Explore issues of potential emotional or personal bias with the line manager or in own supervision, be open to reflect upon how this may impact decision making, and be receptive to respectful challenge that may shape or change ones perspective or thinking.

Able to remain calm and respond in challenging or confrontational situations rather than reacting in a harsh or disrespectful manner.

Identify where there may be issues of professional practice that is having adverse emotional or mental implications and to seek support for this (ie: occupational health, counselling support).

Attuned to the emotional impact that the stress and demands of this work can pose to workers within the team and provide an empathetic, supportive, and pragmatic response and support.

Be receptive to and identify areas of unnecessary bureaucracy or hierarchical pressures that unduly frustrate or impede good practice from taking place and help create strategies to reduce or remove these.

Performance Management and Improvement

Consistently reviews previous decisions at regular intervals (ie: in supervision or on an ad hoc basis) to ensure they are actioned accordingly to avoid drift and delay in planning for children.

Regularly monitors and provide feedback on the practice of workers in the team and identifying any learning or professional development needs that may need further support or development.

Assist the team manager with managing performance through regular audits, supervision, review of reports and plans, and use of performance indicators.

Manage consistently weak performance through constructive feedback, respectful challenge, and identifying areas of support or learning to be worked on.

Does not hesitate to take issues relating to consistently weak or unprofessional practice to the team manager, recognising that this sort of practice undermines the good service our children and families should always receive.

This position is exempt from the main provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means the Act permits the disclosure of any “spent” or “unspent” convictions, cautions or reprimands that are not “protected” as defined under the Exceptions Order 1975 (2013). This is due to this position is working with vulnerable children and adults and is thus deemed a “regulated activity” as defined by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. This means checks will also be made against barring lists related to working with vulnerable children and adults.

We recognise the contribution that ex-offenders can make as employees and volunteers and welcome applications from them. A person’s criminal record will not, in itself, prohibit that person from being appointed to this post. Any information given will be treated in the strictest confidence. Suitable applicants will not be refused posts because of offences which are not relevant to, and do not place them at or make them a risk in, the role for which they are applying.

All cases will be examined on an individual basis and will take the following into consideration:

  • Whether the conviction is relevant to the position applied for.
  • The seriousness of any offence revealed.
  • The age of the applicant at the time of the offence(s).
  • The length of time since the offence(s) occurred.
  • Whether the applicant has a pattern of offending behaviour.
  • The circumstances surrounding the offence(s), and the explanation(s) offered by the person

    concerned.

  • Whether the applicant’s circumstances have changed since the offending behaviour.

    We will not undertake a DBS check unless an offer of employment is made. It is important that applicants understand that failure to disclose any convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings that are not “protected” could result in withdrawing an employment offer, or later disciplinary proceedings or dismissal.

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