Social work diary: ‘We have apparently allowed the chaos to go unchecked’

Flooding, nits and anger management all feature in a testing week for this anonymous social worker

By an anonymous social worker


I wade through four volumes of files to write a child protection report on a teenager whose family has been worked with for more than a decade. No changes were made and the boy is now out of school and committing offences.

The indications were always strong that his parents could not care for him – care proceedings started several times but there are no reasons given as to why they stopped. It is impossible to make sense of it; we have apparently allowed the chaos to go unchecked.


Our office is suddenly full of new staff from an office that has been flooded and its computer server submerged. They have been given laptops and told to work wherever they can. It is like a refugee camp, with much competition for space.

I visit a father on a child protection case who is expected to go to anger management classes. He tells me a psychiatrist told him he does not need to do them because he only gets angry because of his wife. It’s a ploy to put me off.


I visit an eastern European family for the first time. The previous worker said mother understands English. It becomes clear that she does on practical things but on more emotional matters her English is limited. I resolve to use an interpreter next time.


Bad news. The flooded server cannot be repaired and it’s been decided to vacate that office. Those workers will be homeless for a long time.

Later I am called to school where two children who are cared for by a relative have serious infestation of nits. Watching the nits run about one child’s hair and the open wounds where she has scratched herself is a dreadful sight.

The relative’s protestation is that the children complain loudly when she tries to use special shampoo and comb their hair. So I decide to get them seen by a paediatrician at the local hospital, which is surprisingly easy. The relative is given a good talking by the paediatrician and I get the girls to solemnly agree not to whinge when someone washes their hair.

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