Social work diary: ‘The dad blames ‘ghosts’ but the only spirits present are in his bloodstream’

A brush with the supernatural, a promise of revolution, and a series of delays in getting important information from 'partner' agencies, all feature in this children's social worker's week

Picture credit: Image Broker/Rex Features

Monday

A quick glance at the Daily Mail and I glimpse an article about a meeting where social workers apparently called each other ‘comrades’. There’s no time to read it now as I have to visit a father who’s not living with his family after a prison sentence for viewing indecent images of children. 

We talk about how to manage contact with his own children in the future; it will have to be supervised. I talk to him about the offence but he is very evasive. I wish I had time to make my own risk assessment of him.

Tuesday

I contact the prison where the father was and I’m promised a copy of their risk assessment but they question the security of my email address; it would be quicker for me to go and get it.

I visit a family where one child had cancer, now in remission. She’s had to face traumatic illness at a very early age and although only seven, she already knows her way around several hospitals and can compare the food and the medical  staff.

Later, I go to a looked-after-child review with a colleague who’s taking over the case.

The mother is Spanish and the interpreter justifies mum’s behaviour as being “typically Spanish”. I’ve recommended she is not used again, she is not objective.

The mother is very good at drawing in lots of people to be on her side and obscuring her poor child care. I am relieved to let the case go.

Wednesday

I am writing a core assessment on a separated couple.

The father tells me there is already a report by Cafcass about contact, so I ring them to be told the report is now at the court. The court staff, though, are unsure if they can share it. More delay.

Later, I visit a family where dad is in hospital after a car crash. Mum has convinced herself and the children that he swerved to avoid a headless ghost.

Knowing dad’s habit of drinking and driving, I suspect the only spirits around that night were in his bloodstream.

Thursday

I speak to my manager about doing my own risk assessment on the father I saw Monday but am told to get other assessments.

I go out with a child in foster care. He’s keen to explore things in my car. He dons a hi-visibility vest and takes my torch when we go out.

He looks unusual but at least I know I won’t lose sight of him. It’s worth wearing out the torch batteries to see him enjoy himself.

Friday

Further calls to the court and prison about this week’s cases, which  elicit only more promises; I wonder what working together is all about.

It would have been quicker to undertake my own assessment on Monday’s case as all I have by today are promises. These don’t protect children.

I finally read that newspaper article and find out it’s about the Socialist Workers Party, not social workers. 

A disappointment, as I thought our profession was now in the vanguard of revolutionary change. Maybe next week.

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