Firstly, let me just add, I love my job. I love that every day is different. It is unique in that it is not a 9-5 job with the same routines. I love helping people – I take huge satisfaction helping societies most vulnerable in their time of need. I enjoy challenging and advocating on behalf of those with little support. Social Work is a very difficult and challenging career. It requires you to continue to learn and develop your practice throughout your career – with new ways of working, theories, policies and legislation being introduced on a regular basis.
Below, I have outlined one week of what I do. I hope it gives you a flavour into the work I undertake as a Children’s Social Worker and the varying tasks I complete on a day to day basis. I have not gone into too much detail with the Service Users for confidentially purposes. But, in order to promote reflective learning, I have included some guidance and legislation that underpins my practice. In addition, I have also not added the fact that between my meetings, duty and statutory visits, I was completing at least six Core Assessments and a number of Child Protection Plans and Case Note Contacts.
Morning: Child Protection Core Group Meeting
The week kick started with a Child Protection Core Group Meeting in relation to a family I had been allocated. There are long standing issues of neglect with this family which includes: Lack of basic amenities, children’s health needs (poor dental hygiene), father’s involvement in offending behaviour and concerns that mother is struggling to appropriately parent her children. School also report long standing issues with attendance and that, when challenged, mother can be verbally abusive towards staff members.
The Core Group Meeting is responsible for developing the child protection plan as a detailed working tool and implementing it within the outline plan agreed at the initial child protection conference. Those in attendance included me, as the lead social worker, (I also chair this meeting), the child (if appropriate), family members and professionals and/or foster carers who will have direct contact with the family.
The first meeting of the Core Group should take place within 10 working days of the initial child protection conference. My role as the lead social worker is to ensure that there is a record of the decisions taken and actions agreed, as well as providing a report on the views of those who were not able to attend.
Afternoon: Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC)
This ICPC was convened following the completion of a section 47 enquiry (Children’s Act 1989). We had received an anonymous referral after all three children were reported to be wandering the streets late at night. This was the third reported incident and what made it more concerning was the fact that all three children were under the age of 7. There were also concerns in relation to the mother’s volatile relationship with her current partner (alleged domestic violence).
In basic terms, the purpose of an ICPC brings together family members (and the child where appropriate) with the supporters, advocates and professionals most involved with the child(ren) and family, to make decisions about the child’s future safety, health and development. As the allocated Social Worker, my responsibility includes:
- Making sure that the outline child protection plan is developed into a detailed and specific Multi-Agency Plan.
- Undertaking and reviewing the Core Assessment of the child and family
- Co-ordinate the contribution of family members and other agencies to the plan
- Undertaking statutory Child Protection Visits to see the children
- Regularly updating the Children’s Social Care Database.
There are four main categories of child protection: Neglect, Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse and Sexual Abuse. You can have more than one category. For example, primary Neglect with secondary Emotional Abuse.
Morning: Court Day – Section 7 Report.
Today I was required to attend court for a Section 7 Report that I had written. This type of report is written by a Social Worker in cases where an application has been made to the court in accordance with The Children Act 1989 (section 8). As such I was required to detail and collate all the available evidence and information about a child’s situation, advising the Court of the child’s wishes and feelings and what I considered to be in the best interests of the child. This was specifically in relation to where the child should reside following the separation of parents.
Section 7 Reports are timely affairs (and rightly so). I often find that, during the evidence gathering stages, parents will regularly attempt to manipulate the child’s views. In addition, I have also come across a number of false allegations made by parents against each other in an attempt to ‘tarnish’ their ex-partners name. Yes, it is an extremely emotive and stressful situation for all family members, but as a Social Worker conducting this report, it is my duty to take the child’s wishes first. Therefore, I had spent a number of weeks observing and meeting with family members (as well as external services) to get a more rounded and holistic understanding in relation to the family’s dynamics.
Outcome: the court agreed with my recommendation. I will not detail in fully here due to confidentiality. I also received positive feedback from the magistrates, which was a bonus for me personally.
Afternoon: Personal Supervision
Court, as ever, had taken up most of my day. However, I did manage to get back to the office in time for my personal supervision. Several of my colleagues and Social Work Peers have admitted to me in the past that they do not enjoy supervision for fear of seeing it as a ‘what haven’t they done’ exercise – where managers focus on outstanding work.
I on the other hand see it as a form of safeguarding in relation to my practice. I value it as a learning opportunity to discuss in detail one or two cases so as I can reflect and highlight particular areas of strength or areas for further development. Granted, I feel lucky because I have a very supportive and experienced manager. She values and promotes my professional judgement and, if there are areas of development, will share with me relevant practical experiences. In addition, my manager also tells me when I have completed a good piece of work. This I think is her greatest skill (people skills). Given the negative attention that surrounds our practice, I believe it is really important to share and promote good practice within our profession. I see it as my manager valuing my work and achievements.
So, the supervision was positive in the main. I am aware that I have several items outstanding for completion. Mostly due to the new database system we have in operation, which I just cannot seem to get to grips with. But the session was reflective and I felt better for it.
Post 5pm: Home Visits
The day was finished off with me completing two Child Protection Home Visits. Thankfully, both sessions were positive and no other actions were required for today.
All Day: Duty
Day one of our two day’s duty rota. Our team’s duty rota system works on a rolling three weekly basis. Our duty team pod consists of four social workers, three support workers and a practice manager.
Morning: I arrive at the office to find that we had already received four referrals. The manager allocates each Social Worker a case. My case involved completing a Section 47 Enquiry relating to concerns of a registered sex offender now living with his new partner. Unfortunately, she has two young children. This referral was made by the Probation Service. Prior to the home visit, I collated all previous records and information on the family and partner. I was concerned that the family have previously been involved with Children’s Social Care (subject to CP two years ago) and that mothers new partner had not fully shared his previous offences.
As ever, Police completed the joint home visit with me and once information was shared, mother was offered relevant support services (likely to be a Child In Need Plan) and agreed that her new partner had not share the information. She did not want him within her home address. In addition, the partner was removed and was breached by Probation for breaching the terms of his Court Order.
Afternoon: With still two Section 47 enquiries outstanding, there is still work to do. Our EDT will not take them due to capacity issues and the fact that they were referred to us before the 4pm cut off point (a policy in this particular Local Authority). I take one – an allegation that a child has been picked up and thrown by mother’s ex-partner after he forced entry into her home after spending several hours drinking. This requires a visit to the local hospital for a pediatric assessment.
No significant physical harm to the child was found. However, due to the concerns reported and the fact that the perpetrator was still at large, I was required to place mother and child at a local women’s refuge. This particular facility had night staff and so I felt that the mother and child were suitable safeguarding and protected. My last action of the day: completion of a hand over meeting with the night support worker. Today was a long day!
Morning: Another busy day. Today I completed three Section 47 Enquiries as well as conducting several welfare visits. I dealt with two domestic abuse incidents in which the children had witnessed the parents fight – once received minor injuries. Thankfully, parents signed a written agreement and agreed to placing their children were extended family members until a Core Assessment (within 10 days) could be completed, which would identify what level of service or intervention level/threshold. I was happy with this decision as both incidents were isolated and that they had never previously been involved with Children’s Social Care.
Afternoon: Admin! I spent the rest of the afternoon typing up my Section 47 Enquiries – three of which I recommended in instigating ICPC.
Morning: The first morning of the week where I did not have appointments to see children or families. Today was spent ‘feeding the machine’ – completing and updating my case note contact for all of my 28 cases. I completed three Core Assessments and two CP Plans (to name but a few).
Afternoon: I competed an unannounced home visit to see a family that I was growing concerned about. Five children, all out of school due to presented ‘behavioural’ difficulties. Concerns that mother is taking drugs again and father, who has a significant alcohol issue, is back living within the home address (previous reports of domestic violence). I arrive to find that father was present – he is assessed as a safeguarding concern. Children appeared well but had once again missed school. Due to the concerns raised in relation to father, I had to be forceful in my approach to family, which required the father to leave the home address. I met with each child (alone) – who did not report any recent ‘incidents’.
My final task: I completed a referral to EDT to undertake two unannounced home visits to see family and children during the weekend so as to make sure father was not present. A written agreement was signed by both mother and father.
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