Social work diary: ‘The child decides to jump out of the window’

Head wounds, helicopter searches and referral woes are all in a week's work for this anonymous social worker.


I attend a looked-after child review for a teenager. He doesn’t attend meetings, so as usual it is professionals swapping information and ideas. Rather like an operation without the patient.

We make some decisions about his future but I wonder if he will go along with them. He is not going to improve the outcomes for children in care at this rate.


Today is spent chasing up the many referrals I have made for families to different agencies. It is challenging and time consuming to make the referral and then track down its progress. Positive responses are rare.

Other professionals think these referrals will solve a family’s problems, as if the referral is the end in itself. It is not that easy. Usually the agencies say they will call me back, but at the end of the day all I have got is their best wishes.


I get a police report of an incident last night with a family well known for arguing incessantly.

One of the children threw a shoe at another, which cut his head. Then he decided to jump out of the window but was stopped at the last minute. Police managed to restore order and paramedics treated the head wound.

When I visit they tell me the argument started over one child trying to sell the other a pasty at a mark-up price. This is how wars begin, or escalate in this case.

They recount with gusto how many police and ambulance crews attended and their disappointment about not needing to go to hospital, as if it is the most normal thing in the world. It is time to change my risk assessment on them to high.


One of the children I work with is a teenager with an eating problem. He eats masses of food after school in an omnivorous manner. His parents say they cannot afford to feed him and speculate on diagnoses to try to make sense of things.

I negotiate financial assistance until he can be seen by an eating disorder clinic. Each day must be very turbulent emotionally for him.

Later I visit a child in a residential home. He is very immature and other children make fun of him, so he is at the bottom of the pecking order. One of the staff is sewing up his large teddy bear for which he is very grateful.


I do an assessment on a young man with a number of chronic disabilities, including having no sense of danger. When he was younger his parents could control him but in his teenage years he has proved much harder to manage.

He will wander off without any sense of time or distance. Last week the police had to launch a missing persons search for him, complete with helicopter, as he is so vulnerable.

He needs specialist help but I wonder if the disability team or psychiatric services will think he fits their criteria. I see Tuesday’s referral dilemmas loom large again.


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