Social work diary: ‘As a foster carer studying social work I see both sides of this system’

A social work student and foster carer reflects on a challenging week

By an anonymous trainee social worker


I’m studying my social work degree part-time so that it works with my fostering. This morning our course results are in. The nice news is I’m heading for a good result! I’m still waiting to hear where my final placement will be. I’ve requested a statutory looked-after-children team so I can understand fostering from a statutory perspective.

Despite the nice start, my day begins to go slowly downhill. I attend youth court with one of the foster children who is placed with me and learn that the legal system is far from fair. No-one is listening and it feels that everyone has pre-judged the young person without investigation.

The case is referred to the Crown Court, meaning that any sentence will remain on the foster child’s record for longer. I am very scared for them and feel like no-one is taking this seriously.


I report back to all the social workers involved as I went alone with the young person to court. I’ve been told that the Youth Offending Team (YOT) will take over as it is their responsibility. I give them all the details and wait for the call.

The young people placed with me are feeling the pressure of transition to independent living. They have not had any contact with their birth parents for a number of years and are feeling very nervous about who will be there for them. Being a foster carer is so hard when you see the impact of this rejection.


I start on a major project for my social work degree. We’re told it’s due in a couple of weeks, so no pressure then!

I have to admit I’m finding it hard to juggle being a foster carer and social work student today.  Angry outbursts between young people placed with me require all my negotiating skills to prevent things escalating into violence. It is days like today that I think social work has to be so much easier than being a foster carer. It’s easy to give advice; it is much harder to deal with it 24/7. I am not a quitter but sometimes it is incredibly challenging.


I get a supervision visit today. I’m told that my fostering placements are possibly some of the most complex my social worker has dealt with in more than 10 years. I feel a little proud of myself as I realise that if I’d given up on these children like the last five placements they had within a short space of time when they first came into care, they may have just become further statistics of the system.

Both have done well at school, which is amazing and I am very proud of them. I have had them for years now and love them dearly but the last couple of years have been extremely challenging!


There’s still no call from YOT despite there only being a week left to the court date! I’m starting to panic and chase things up with social worker. You learn all these social work ideals at university but I find it very different in the real world.

On a brighter note, today is pocket money day so everyone on their best behaviour and planning their weekend. I’m going to spend Saturday helping a fellow student with our assignment and then – fingers crossed – switch off on Sunday.

Would you like to write an anonymous diary of your week in social work? Get in touch here.

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One Response to Social work diary: ‘As a foster carer studying social work I see both sides of this system’

  1. Angus Skinner July 9, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    I hope `sunday was fine. Thank you for sharing.