Social work diary: ‘The family support worker thinks I can work miracles’

A tricky week ends with me being expected to address a family's domestic violence, language needs, child care and housing issues all at once, writes this anonymous social worker


The week begins with a case conference on a young child who is living with a mother who hoards things; their house is a health and fire hazard.

The mother says she sends her child to school wearing an incontinence pad as children can’t control their bladder ‘til they are 18. She got this information off a website. Wikipedia has much to answer for.

Later I hear that a child in care has been diagnosed with autistic tendencies. His mother is elated and thinks it absolves her of all our concerns about her poor parenting.

I point out to her that all her other children are emotionally delayed, and it won’t stop the care proceedings. She goes off to ring the newspapers.


I do a visit with a colleague from the looked-after children team to a one-year-old who is in foster care. He is a charming child who is developing well despite being abandoned by his mother in hospital, and during a mother and baby placement.


In the neat, ordered world of ‘target setting’, clients are passive creatures. They are visited and assessed in prescribed time scales.

However, today has been spent trying to track down the whereabouts of three families who have moved and whose phone numbers are woefully out of date.

They have to be tracked down through other agencies. It feels like I’m in an Agatha Christie novel where the detective tracks down their suspects.


I visit a teenager in school who is very unhappy. She argues with her mother, goes off with friends and steals things. In every school lesson she messes about and cannot see any future for herself.

It is a very despairing picture until we talk about her little sister, then she smiles and can see something good in her life.

Later I visit the boy who was the subject of Monday’s conference. He and mum are living with grandmother.

When talking about grandmother’s cats, mother wonders if they can be given human aspirins. I worry about her way of thinking.


I start off by visiting one of the families whose addresses I was trying to find. It’s a very revealing visit and I have enough material now for the core assessment.

I’m not sure what I am more relieved by, being able to engage the client or getting the assessment in on time.

In the afternoon I attend a child in need meeting on a case which I am sure is not allocated to me but I have not been able to get this confirmed.

The family are from Europe and the family support worker expects me to address their need to learn English, stop the domestic violence, arrange child care and get them rehoused.

He is mixing me up with someone who can work miracles. Later I learn it is not my case, and feel intense relief.

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