Child in Need, Child Protection and Child Looked After visits are a requirement of each procedural field within Social Work practice. They are useful, informative and provide relevant information that enables best practice in planning for the child. However, whether gathering information, conducting assessments or in the delivery of interventions to safeguard and/or to promote the welfare of the child, effective statutory visits can be a demanding and often complex task.
What should you look out for? Where do you begin? What questions should you ask?
Below, I have created some useful and practical tips and hints which focuses on good practice and holistic information gathering. Enjoy!
What time did you visit?
Try to plan visits at different times in the day in order to observe how the child and their parent(s) or carer(s) interact throughout the day.
Who is present?
Be specific about who is present during the visit. This should include parent(s), carer(s), immediate and extended family members as well as any family associates.
What was the condition of the home?
Be specific in your observations relating to home conditions. For example: the garden, lounge, kitchen, bedroom. Are they appropriately clean and with all amenities present? Does the child have access to books? What items does the child have access to in his/her bedroom? What are the bed routines/times?
What was the child wearing?
Does the child have appropriate clothing? Or in need of new clothes? Does the child have enough clothing/underwear? Do they know where to get their clothes washed?
How does the child interact with their parent(s)/carer(s)?
Does the child feel confident to discuss personal or stressful information with their carer(s)/parent(s)? What is their relationship like on observation?
Speak to the child alone.
Age and ability appropriate: how are they coping? What is their daily routine? Are they having contact with their family? If so, who and in what capacity (face to face/telephone) and how often? Likes and dislikes (three houses direct work). Do they feel safe? Do they feel more / less safe with different people?
What education is the child receiving? Do they feel that it is too hard/easy? Do they have SEN? Attendance? Friends at school? What do they want to become?
Does the child know who to contact regarding any health issues? Can they relay this to you? Do they have any health issues? If so, how are these being managed by the child and parent(s)/carer(s)? How is their emotional well-being? Do they feel low in mood? Have they self-harmed or attempted suicide in the past? How do they feel now? Are they currently self-harming or have suicidal ideation?
Do they feel safe at home, school, in the community? Have they formed any friendships, if so, who, ages? Are they aware of any bullying? Is there any behavioural issues from the child? Does the child have access to telephone credit/moneys for extra items?
All child should be spoken to with regard to their CIN, CP or CLA plan. If in care proceedings- children should be notified of the court proceedings and process. Go through all points in the plan and gain their comments on each.
Wishes and feelings.
Child’s wishes and feelings to be ascertained and documented regarding the current situation, any changes to their care plan and their future goals.
The Author of this blog is an experienced Social Worker, Practice Educator and Independent Social Work Consultant who enjoys sharing experiences and learning new skills and knowledge. Background includes working in Child Protection, Family Court, Fostering, EDT, Adults with Learning Difficulties and the Youth Justice System.