This week’s writer is a children’s complaints officer in a
social services complaints section.
After weeks of face-to-face contact with young people, I start
the week looking forward to several appointments with other
professionals doing similar work to myself. Message on the
children’s freephone answering machine from a young person wanting
to see me after school. Unable to contact her to arrange an
alternative time, so I cancel my meeting booked with a children’s
rights officer from a neighbouring authority. Next, I visit a young
woman to discuss a complaint about her social worker. Not in. Wait
until well past 5pm for my “after school” appointment to meet me.
Another no-show. Young people todayÉ
Admin tasks all morning, including chasing up yesterday’s
“no-shows”. Spend an excellent afternoon with a variety of
looked-after young people in a meeting with senior management to
look at ways to spend central government money on raising the
self-esteem of children and young people in our care. Suggestions
include Sky TV in every young person’s bedroom and compulsory
karaoke sessions in each of the children’s residential units.
Driving them all home after a burger stop-off, I hear a list of
complaints from a young woman whose foster placement has broken
down after only five months. I am overwhelmed with sadness that she
“dared” not phone me to complain while living with the carers.
Cancel another appointment I was looking forward to – with a
children’s complaints officer from a neighbouring authority – as I
need to see the young woman from yesterday. Three hours later, I
return to the office to inform all relevant people about her
complaints and allegations. Grateful for the efficiency and
swiftness of e-mail. Later, I visit one of the local authority
children’s residential units to find the young people telling the
staff off for being too loud, boisterous and silly. I can’t argue
with that. Follow this with a visit to a private children’s
residential unit where no one is being too loud, boisterous and
silly – except perhaps the wide-screen television in the corner of
the lounge showing Sky TV.
Getting through many more conversations, e-mails and write-ups
about the latest complaints when I am relieved by a phone call from
a young woman wishing to talk to me. Agree to visit her within the
hour. She wants to ask for a new social worker for what I feel are
justifiable reasons. Advise her to write in and request it before
we deal with it as a complaint as such. You never know – she may
get a result.
With the weekend approaching I gather up all my parking tickets
and receipts to claim back a wad from petty cash. That should see
me through to Monday. Meet with the assistant director for
children’s division and the quality protects manager to discuss a
proposal about me being promoted and paid more for the
participation and consultation I am doing on top of the complaints.
Yes please. Just before packing up to go home, I get a call from a
young person telling me, in far too much detail, about a fight in
her unit. This leaves me adding a task to Monday’s list – to
rethink, with senior management, the idea of Sky TV in each