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The Role of the Chief Social Work Officer

The Chief Social Work Officer (CSWO) is required to ensure the provision of appropriate professional advice in the discharge of local authorities’ statutory social work duties. The CSWO should be positioned at a level of seniority commensurate with being able to advise the local authority and undertake the complex duties described in the Guidance.

The Chief Social Work Officer is a ‘proper officer’ in relation to the social work function. This is an officer who is given particular responsibility on behalf of a local authority, where the law requires the function to be discharged by a specified post holder.

The post holder must be a qualified Social Worker, registered with the Scottish Social Services Council. The Chief Social Work Officer should demonstrate extensive experience at a senior level of both operational and strategic management of Social Work and Social Care Services.

The scope of the role relates to all Social Work and Social Care Services, whether provided directly by the local authority or in partnership with other agencies. Where services are purchased on behalf of the authority, including from the private or third sector, the Chief Social Work Officer has a responsibility to advise on the specification, quality and standards of services commissioned.

The Chief Social Work Officer’s responsibilities

Promote values and standards of professional practice, including relevant National Standards, and provide a clear statement of expectation of Social Services Workers and employers, consistent with the Scottish Social Services Council Codes of Practice, to be agreed with the Chief Executive and Elected Members

Ensure that these values and standards are communicated on a regular basis, adhered to and reviewed periodically.

Work with Human Resources to ensure that all Social Services Workers meet the requirements of the Scottish Social Services Council Code of Practice and that all registered workers meet the requirements of their regulatory body.

Support and advise managers in maintaining and developing high standards of practice and supervision.

Ensure that only registered Social Workers undertake those functions reserved in legislation or are accountable for those functions described in guidance.

Ensure that there are effective governance arrangements for the management of the complex balance of need, risk and civil liberties, in accordance with professional standards. Where the council’s corporate policy on risk does not reflect this balance, the Chief Social Work Officer is required to bring this to the attention of the Chief Executive and to contribute to the development of appropriate governance arrangements.

Ensure appropriate advice is provided on corporate workforce planning and quality assurance, including safe recruitment practice, probation/ mentoring arrangements, managing poor performance and promoting continuous learning and development for staff.

Actively promote continuous improvement, raising standards and evidence-informed good practice, including the development of person-centred services that are focused on the needs of the service user.

Oversee the quality of practice learning experiences for Social Work Students and effective workplace assessment arrangements, in accordance with the Scottish Social Services Council Code of Practice for Employers of Social Services Workers.

Ensure that appropriate systems are in place both to promote good practice and to identify and address weak and poor practice. The Chief Social Work Officer (CSWO) should work with Managers to ensure these systems are effective and, where this is not the case, the CSWO has the responsibility for bringing this to the attention of the Chief Executive and contributing to the development or improvement of such systems.

Ensure that significant case reviews are undertaken into all critical incidents either resulting in, or which may have resulted in, death or serious harm.

Take final decisions on behalf of the local authority in relation to a range of social work matters, including adoption, secure accommodation, guardianship and other statutory decisions required from time to time.

Contribute to reports to the Chief Executive and elected members providing independent comment where necessary on the findings of relevant performance reports, setting out:

  • Implications for the local authority, for services, for service users and carers, for individual teams/members of staff/partners as appropriate.
  • Implications for delivery of national and local outcomes.
  • Proposals for remedial action.
  • Means for sharing good practice and learning.
  • Monitoring and reporting arrangements for identified improvement activity.

Report to the local authority on any other social work related issues.

Prepare an annual report to the local authority on all of the statutory, governance and leadership functions of the role.

From September 2010, authorise the specification for the procurement of commissioned services.

Chief Social Work Officer Annual reports can be accessed from the 'More pages in this section' menu.

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