Careers in children's social work

Careers in children's social work

We are looking for professionals to join our children’s social care teams.
View and apply for jobs

About us

Our story

Our story

WSCC Children First logo
West Sussex County Council - Children First

West Sussex County Council

Here at West Sussex County Council we are ambitious for our children and our workforce. We are committed to improving our services for the children and families in West Sussex who we support.  We are making good progress following the Ofsted inspection of our Children’s Social Care in May 2019 which judged the services to be inadequate.

If you are a social work professional looking to be part of an ambitious improvement plan and you are up for the challenge and keen to make a significant difference to children and families in West Sussex, we’d love to hear from you.

You will join us as at a key time on our improvement journey. The work we have started includes:

  • Establishing a new and experienced leadership team driving forward our  ‘Children First’ improvement plan
  • A supportive partnership with our skilled colleagues in Hampshire County Council as our partner in practice
  • A recruitment and retention package that rewards the work and commitment of our Social Workers and creates a stable workforce in which we can thrive
  • The expertise and leadership of John Coughlan, our commissioner who is overseeing our improvement work and leading the move to a children’s trust

We are making progress and as of December 2019 the average caseload held by our Qualified Social Workers stands at 15.

But we don’t underestimate the work that still needs to be done and that’s why we need professionals who really want to make a change to join our dynamic and supportive teams.

Our county

Our county

West Sussex, our county

West Sussex is a beautiful county located on the South Coast of England. Within easy reach of sandy beaches and rolling hills, West Sussex also boasts a perfect balance of cosmopolitan towns such as Crawley and Horsham, and flourishing market towns like Chichester.

West Sussex has so much to offer and is a wonderful place to live, work and play.

If you want to find out further information about one of the UK’s most diverse counties, visit Experience West Sussex.

Why work for us

Pay & benefits

Pay & benefits


We have just completed a pay review to ensure a competitive basic salary, which we benchmark every six months.

  • As a Social Worker you will be able to earn from £29,597 to £42,965 per annum. (This includes the market supplement amount.)
  • As a Practice Manager you will be able to earn from £45,180 to £48,399 per annum.

Recruitment & Retention Scheme

When you join West Sussex County Council, we will offer you the chance to sign up for a lump sum payment of 20% of your annual basic salary, paid with your first month’s salary. This payment is based on your commitment to staying with us for a minimum period of 18 months.


  • Annual leave of up to 29 days.
  • Flexible and mobile working opportunities.
  • A minimum of five days' professional development time a year.
  • Access to research communities, including Research in Practice.
  • Social Work England fees paid for all social workers up to Grade 12.
  • An attractive benefits package that includes an excellent local government pension scheme, staff discounts and support for you and your family and career breaks.
Find out why West Sussex is a great place to live and work




Professional progression

At West Sussex County Council (WSCC) we are committed to supporting your professional progression.

View our Videos section to find out more about career progression or download the document below, which also contains information about job roles and pay scales.

Find out more

Social worker career framework pdf

Training and development

Training and development

Continuing professional development

We offer a clear career pathway to develop and promote talent and practice and provide opportunities to progress at each level of the organisation.

All new staff receive training in our core practice framework, which includes:

  • Signs of Safety.
  • Solution-focused 'appreciative inquiry' that looks at what works to motivate change.
  • 'Attachment' training and the impact of developmental trauma.


We have a comprehensive training programme with clear pathways for all stages of your development. Each level is linked to the Professional Capabilities Framework with which you can plan your career.

We also have:

Find out more

Our teams

Service areas

Service areas

Social work service areas

Our main social work teams are:

  • Assessment and Intervention.
  • Family Support and Protection.
  • Adolescent and Family Resource.
  • Children Looked After.
  • Child and Family Intervention Service.
  • Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
  • Fostering and Adoption.
  • Child Disability Team – Lifelong Services.

Teams based in Horsham and Crawley cover the north of the county, while those based in Worthing and Bognor Regis cover the south.

We also have county-wide teams that cover the whole of West Sussex.

Find out more about our social work service areas


Employment routes

Step Up to Social Work

Step Up to Social Work

Employment Routes

From starting your social work career to supporting your return after an extended break, at West Sussex County Council we’re proud to offer a number of routes to employment within Children’s Social Care.

Step Up to Social Work

The Step Up to Social Work programme, the next programme to launch in 2021, is an intensive, 14-month, full-time programme for trainee Social Workers. It is supported by the Department for Education and applications are considered through a central processing programme which West Sussex supports. A bursary is awarded for successful applicants and there are specific eligibility requirements.

Trainees will be expected to complete a minimum of 170 placement days of social work in a local authority, gaining hands-on practitioner experience and academic learning. Successful trainees will be awarding a postgraduate diploma in social work once they complete the programme, allowing them to register and practise as a Social Worker, and commence the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment within our Social Work Academy.

West Sussex County Council sponsors 6 places per cohort. The course will cover topics such as:

  • Social work ethics and practice.
  • Child development.
  • Assessment of risk.
  • The legal framework.

For more information or to view the eligibility criteria please visit the Step Up to Social Work page on the GOV.UK website.

Internal Apprenticeship

Internal Apprenticeship


In 2019, West Sussex County Council launched our apprenticeship for motivated and dedicated employees within our Early Help and Children’s Services who want to take the next step by training to become a qualified Social Worker. A Social Work Apprentice will gain ‘on the job’ experience to develop their knowledge, skills and behaviour to achieve a degree in Social Work.

Sitting within an operational Children’s Services team the Social Work Apprentice will be employed as a Child and Family Worker whilst completing the programme. This is a challenging role and they will need to be able to demonstrate that they have the right skills, experiences and attitude to become a Social Worker, as well as the ability to meet the requirements of academic study.

The Social Work Apprenticeship will typically take 36 months and, by the end of the programme, there will be an end-point assessment which will form the final point of the degree. Upon qualification and full registration, the apprentice will commence their Assessed and Supported Year in Employment within our Academy before moving to one of our operational teams as a Newly Qualified Social Worker.

Find out more

Visit the Institute for Apprenticeships' Social Worker (Degree) page, where you can get further insight into the role!

Newly Qualified Social Worker (Social Work Academy)

Newly Qualified Social Worker (Social Work Academy)

Social Work Academy

West Sussex County Council is proud to have established its very own Social Work Academy, sitting alongside our Social Work teams, based in the North and South of the county. We are revolutionising the way we work within our Children's Services and continue to develop the West Sussex Social Work Academy so that we can guide and steer Newly Qualified Social Workers through that crucial first year of practice. Only the most promising and passionate advocates of children and young people who wish to work in frontline Child Protection Teams will be selected to take part in this programme.

Guidance and support

The Academy provides guidance and support as each Newly Qualified Social Worker embarks on a challenging and hugely rewarding career helping to support children and families. They will be equipped and highly trained to become the best possible Social Worker with a phased approach to the volume and complexity of their workload.

A Newly Qualified Social Worker in our Academy can expect:

  • Reduced and protected caseloads.
  • Dedicated Training pathway – intensive for the first four months.
  • Regular reflective supervision.
  • Group supervision.
  • Dedicated holistic assessor to help oversee your development.

We need brilliant Newly Qualified Social Workers who inspire and deliver change all around them. That’s why we’re looking for talented, ambitious and passionate people to come and join us.

Our campaign to recruit Newly Qualified Social Workers usually launches at the beginning of each year so keep an eye out for the events, activities and applications around this time.

Experienced Social Workers

Experienced Social Workers


West Sussex County Council are committed to improving the quality of service we provide to the children and families within our county and to improving the quality of support we provide to the Social Workers who currently work for us. The number and complexity of children in our care has increased significantly since 2014. West Sussex mirrors the national picture of a recognised shortage in Children’s Social Workers. At the same time the number of cases has gone up.

Improvement Plan

The Council’s improvement plan aims to deliver stability for our social care workforce, a staff training programme to address practice improvements and a recruitment and retention programme so that Social Worker caseloads can be reduced. But we cannot improve without you.

We need experienced Social Workers to join us who are committed to providing and delivering the services vulnerable children and families within West Sussex deserve. We need experienced Social Workers who can help us and be a part of our commitment and journey to improve; to deliver and be better.

We need you

Check out why you should work us for to find out what we offer in return.

Casual Bank

Casual Bank

Casual Bank

Since launching in 2018, our Casual Bank for social work has gone from strength to strength. We are giving Social Workers the opportunity to work in a different way; offering flexible and ad-hoc assignments helping them take back control over how and when they work and supporting our teams within Children’s Social Care when there is an additional need.

We have seen former Social Workers return from retirement, maternity/paternity leave or career breaks and Social Workers from out of county who want to experience West Sussex without having to commit to a permanent role. The Casual Bank has enabled us to utilise the skills, experience and expertise without losing them and support case-holding Social Workers by picking up parts of their case load or a particular assessment.

Register your interest

To find out more or to register your interest in working as part of the Casual Bank, please email us at:

Return to social work

Return to social work

Return to Social work

Has it been a while since you’ve left social work? Whatever the reason you left, if you have a current Social Work England registration and previous experience of statutory front-line social work, then West Sussex County Council would like to support your return to social work.

Our Return to Social Work programme is tailored to support you to return to practice. We are looking for Social Workers who have previous experience of working within frontline Children’s Social Care teams. Following an initial information session our offer includes a mixture of one to one reflective discussions, shadowing that is tailor made to meet your area of interest and experience, interview preparation and self-learning to help you renew your knowledge.

Secure a permanent post

Following the programme, if you secure a permanent post with us, you will have access to excellent learning and development provisions, post graduate training pathway with a local university as well as access to Research in Practice. You are also guaranteed a minimum of 5 days per year continued professional development.

International recruitment

International recruitment

Overseas Social Workers

We recognise that we can benefit from the experience of Social Workers who have practised overseas. If you are successful, we would be able to support you in securing employment with us.

How we work

Signs of Safety: Our Practice Framework

Signs of Safety: Our Practice Framework

Our Practice Framework

Signs of Safety® is an innovative, strengths-based, safety-organised approach to child protection casework. The approach focuses on the question:

“How can the worker build partnerships with parents and children in situations of suspected or substantiated child abuse and still deal rigorously with the maltreatment issues?”

The heart of the Signs of Safety process is a risk assessment and case planning format that is meaningful for professionals as well as the parents and children.

Children’s Services needs to be better. Signs of Safety set out to do this and have been making a difference around the world, involving parents and children at the centre of the work. At its core, Signs of Safety is continuously evolving based on what works for practitioners and agencies undertaking the work with children and families.

Signs of Safety is being used and implemented all around the world. There are 43 UK local authorities implementing the Signs of Safety approach to help protect children and West Sussex County Council is one of the local authorities leading the way. With Signs of Safety we’re building on the strengths already present within families, encouraging them to find their own solutions to what's happening in their lives.

Working with Early Help

Working with Early Help

Early Help (EH)

We work alongside the Early Help (EH) service, who use a ‘whole family’ approach to the activities and support they provide. 

The service aim to make sure that children from pre-birth to 19 years old (and up to 25 years old) get the best start in life and make it more efficient for families to get the help they need.

What Ofsted say

Apply now

Children's social work jobs


By playing this video YouTube may set cookies.

Children Social Care Relationships - Social Workers

This video was shown at the annual Children's Social Care Conference 2019 to highlight the importance of relationships between staff and the families they work with.

By playing this video YouTube may set cookies.

Working in children's social care

Practice Manager Sarah Leppard discusses working in children's social care at WSCC.

By playing this video YouTube may set cookies.

Career progression

Social worker Mark Winstanley talks about career progression in Children's Services.

By playing this video YouTube may set cookies.

Amy Cook - Why I work for West Sussex

Amy Cook, Social Worker in West Sussex, tells us why she works in West Sussex and the benefits offered to Social Workers.

Subscribe to our recruitment newsletter

Find out more or register interest


Share this