Careers in children's social work

We are looking for skilled professionals to join our children’s social work teams.

With you, with the child… Every step of the way.

About us

Our story

Our story

At West Sussex County Council we are doing something inspirational, something we are really proud of - creating a brighter future for the children and families we work with.

We have a clear vision of what we want to achieve for our children. We have a talented leadership team and staff who will ensure we deliver these outcomes, but we are looking for experienced social workers and managers to join us.

People who are proud of what they do, are emotionally intelligent, professionally curious and passionate about making a difference.

Is this someone like you?

  • Are you able to connect with children, young people and families?
  • Do you have high professional standards and are confident about using your professional judgement?
  • Can you skillfully use authority to make evidence-based decisions?

If so, we want to hear from you.

Find out more

Annie's story

Annie's story

Our Director of Family Operations, Annie MacIver, would like to share her story with you.


As a child I was expected to show leadership in ensuring our family and island community system worked well. Expectations of me were high, support levels were high and I quickly learnt early the value of the 'human chain' as we worked to achieve what had to be done.

Later on, as a social worker working in children’s homes, I learnt that leadership meant achieving co-operation through fostering good working relationships. 

Those early lessons remain at the heart of my leadership approach – be firm, be clear, have high expectations, reward good work and, above all...

...great things can be achieved if we develop a working climate where we form a 'human chain'.

Our vision

Our vision

Social work is a challenging job and we recognise that to achieve excellent outcomes for our children our people need to feel supported, contained and challenged. It is important that our children and our people know that we are with them ‘every step of the way’.

The work we do means we will not always get it right. We operate high levels of accountability within a context of valuing and practising ‘appreciative enquiry’.

We work to ensure we stay curious so that we keep learning and developing. We believe that a learning culture where people are well supported will keep children safer.

If you have talent, ambition and a fire in your belly to achieve excellent outcomes for children then we guarantee that West Sussex will support you to achieve your career aspirations.

Annie MacIver, Director of Family Operations

How we work

Practice framework

Practice framework

Signs of Safety

We are one of 10 local authorities that have been developing an innovative, solution-based and safety-orientated approach called Signs of Safety. This builds on the strengths already present within families, encouraging them to find their own solutions to what's happening in their lives.

I found you all to be a great help with a human approach to our family situations, they have been marvellous. We are now a whole family. Better than we’ve ever been.” (Mother of a young person recently returned home from care)

See our staff presenting at the international Signs of Safety gatherings in Minnesota (2015) and Norwich (2016).


We know that understanding relationships is important for effective social work practice. We provide 'attachment' training for all our staff to help them develop an understanding of how trauma can affect a child's behaviour. 

Working with Early Help

Working with Early Help

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

The IPEH aims 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

What Ofsted say

When we were last inspected, there were a number of key messages that inspectors noted:

  1. Evidence of some positive work delivered for children that was improving outcomes for them.
  2. Strong senior leadership supporting a comprehensive improvement plan.
  3. Plans in place are driving progress and positive impact for children right across the service.
View our Ofsted reports (external link)

Our teams

Service areas

Service areas

Our social work teams are based in four service areas:

  • Contact, Assessment and Intervention
  • Family Support, Protection and Disability
  • Resilience and Permanence
  • Fostering, Adoption and Intervention

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.

Contact, Assessment and Intervention

Contact, Assessment and Intervention

Service Leader: Kate Souter

Kate Souter
Kate Souter

Kate says: “The Assessment and Intervention Service has been redesigned to focus on providing more children with help at an earlier stage. Our goal is to provide more interventions, alongside assessment and effective planning for children to ensure that there is sustainable positive change.”

Her service area includes:

Assessment and Intervention Team

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

  • Deal with enquiries, offering advice or signposting people to mainstream and early help services.
  • Respond to child protection referrals within 24 hours.
  • Work with partner agencies to identify and plan support for children in need.
Thank you for helping me, my life is such a better place - Daniel (A young person)

Family Support, Protection and Disability

Family Support, Protection and Disability

Service Leader: Michelle Sanders

Michelle Sanders
Michelle Sanders

Michelle says: "We play a key role in child protection, child in need cases and safety planning for children. Our diverse teams work within a positive, nurturing environment where successes are celebrated and individuals within the team are supported to grow and develop."

Her service area includes:

Family Support and Protection Team

  • Work with children subject to a child protection plan,
  • Assess the ability of families to keep children safe and initiating care proceedings.
  • Work creatively with children to make sure their voices are heard.
  • Work with families to identify necessary support and services that will enable them to move on.
Within West Sussex I have moved from Social Worker, to Practice Manager to Group Manager and I have been supported by some fantastic people.” Group Manager, FSP

Child Disability Team

  • Provide a specialist service for children with more complex disabilities.
  • Assess and provide ongoing help to children who need help, protection or are being looked after.
  • Work with children, families and partners to meet a child’s needs and help them to achieve their potential.

Resilience and Permanence

Resilience and Permanence

Service Leader: Mary Blanchard

Mary Blanchard
Mary Blanchard

Mary says: "My aim is to create an environment where staff feel safe and supported but also encouraged and enabled to develop professional and personal skills to excel in their roles and find the rewards for this in the best possible outcomes for our children."

Her service area includes:

Adolescent and Family Resource Service

  • Work with families and young people aged 11-17.
  • Aim to prevent children coming into the care system and stay with their family or in the community, if it's safe for them to do so.
  • Develop robust children in need, risk and safety plans.
  • Work with parent to enable them to feel equipped to deal with the demands of parenting in a complex environment.

Children Looked After Team

  • Work with children who are being looked after and subject to care proceedings.
  • Aim to achieve permanent homes for these children through reunification with their families, special guardianship orders or adoption.
  • Work with partners to achieve good outcomes for children who are being looked.
You've helped shape the person I am today and been there when I needed you most, so for that and for many other reasons, I wanted to say thank you! (Amy, care leaver)

Child and Family Intervention Service (CFIS) Service 

  • Help parents/carers to increase their confidence and knowledge of parenting and better understand their children's needs.
  • Help families to improve their relationship.
  • Identify and address physical and emotional safety and risk concerns for children.
  • Assist colleagues in case holding social work teams in their decision-making processes.

Fostering and Adoption

Fostering and Adoption

Service Leader: Sarah Foster

Sarah Foster
Sarah Foster

Sarah says: “With our commitment to recruiting more foster carers for our looked after children, this is an exciting and dynamic time to join our service to achieving the best matching for our children."

Her service area includes:

Fostering and Adoption Team

  • Act as 'supervising' social workers to foster carers.
  • Assess and provide support to adopters, children with special guardianship orders and to the Intervention Service.
  • Work directly with families to ease change and improve safety and practice.

Why work for us



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 £28,058 to £39,766 (rising to £41,296 in October 2018)
  • As a Practice Manager you will be able to earn from £38,237 to £47, 450 per annum.



At West Sussex we are committed to supporting your professional progression.

Download our document to find out about career progression, job roles and pay scales:



  • Annual leave of up to 29 days
  • Flexible and mobile working opportunities
  • Relocation packages to West Sussex of up to £10,000
  • A minimum of five days' professional development time a year
  • Access to research communities, including Research in Practice
  • Health and Care Professions Council 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, such as childcare vouchers and career breaks.
Find out why West Sussex is a great place to live and work

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

Employment routes

Experienced social workers

Experienced social workers

We are seeking experienced social workers to join our teams.

We have just completed a pay review and now offer a market supplement to ensure a competitive basic salary.

We know it’s not all about money though. We have a scheme that enables you to progress, gain promotion and achieve your career aspirations. You will receive regular reflective supervision and group supervision. You will also be able to access continuing professional development modules at the University of Chichester.

I enjoy coming into work knowing that whoever I will be sitting next to will be in the same mind-set, striving to improve the lives of children and their families. Social Worker

Newly qualified social workers

Newly qualified social workers

Social Work 'Academy'

We offer on-the-job guidance and support for newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) through the first crucial year of practice. Working within a close and supportive team, you will be trained to become the best possible social worker, using a phased approach to the volume and complexity of your workload.

At the end of your first year you will have developed the skills, experience and confidence to protect and improve the lives of vulnerable children in West Sussex. 

I have been very impressed by the amount of training and support that I have is clear that West Sussex has a lot to offer newly qualified social workers. The academy model is really interesting and works incredibly well. (NQSW)

In your first year of practice you can expect:

  • reduced and protected caseloads
  • a dedicated training pathway, intensive for your first four months
  • regular reflective one-to-one supervision
  • group supervision
  • a dedicated assessor to oversee your development
  • support from managers, experienced social workers and the wider service.

Returning to social work

Returning to social work

Our Return to Social Work programme is designed to support social workers who come back to social work. 

Following an initial information session we provide:

  • one-to-one reflective discussions
  • shadowing that is tailor-made to meet your area of interest and to make sure that you are aware of the current demands of social work
  • interview preparation
  • a series of light training sessions to help you update your knowledge.

Overseas workers

Overseas workers

We recognise that we can benefit from the experience of workers who have practised overseas. In such cases we will:

  • complete an initial informal interview with you via Skype to find out why you want to work in the UK
  • follow this up with a more formal Skype interview
  • obtain a certificate of sponsorship for you if you're successful.

Once you're with us we'll provide an induction to suit your needs. This will include a number of training courses to prepare you for working in the UK before you start work with your team.


To apply for a children's social work vacancy you must:

View and apply for children's social work jobs (external link)


Our 2017 NQSWs arrive

Our 2017 NQSWs arrive

Our new arrivals

Monday 11 September marked a big day for both WSCC and 28 Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSWs) as they joined our academy for their first day.

Catherine Watkins, Service Development Manager, said: "The academy is now in its fifth year and is an established part of our recruitment strategy".

New Head of Children's Social Care

New Head of Children's Social Care

Sarah Daly
Sarah Daly

Sarah Daly has joined us as Head of Children’s Social Care having previously spent four years at the London Borough of Merton, where she was the Head of Service for Looked After Children.

Before that she was head of Quality Assurance and Safeguarding at Croydon Council. She started her career as a social worker in Hull.

Sarah explained that it was after hearing Annie MacIver speak so determinedly at a conference about the County Council’s ambitions for children’s services that made her want to work here.

You can find out more about her in our Videos section.

Staff progression

Staff progression

It is a sad fact that many children’s social workers leave the profession after only a few years. Challenging caseloads and emotional strain are key reasons why people leave social work, but at West Sussex County Council we have identified an additional reason – a lack of career progression.

We have responded by launching our new progression pathway. This allows social workers to choose their own career path and means that there are now opportunities to progress from newly qualified all the way to senior practitioner while remaining in direct practice. By October 2018 our most experienced social workers will be able to earn £41,296 a year.

For social workers wishing to move into management, we have established a Management Development programme and now our front-line practice managers have the scope to earn up to £46,980 a year.




Sarah Daly, Head of Children's Social Care

Sarah talks about the innovative work using Signs of Safety that attracted her to the job


Meet our team

What some of our staff think about the way we work

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