Social work diary: ‘The girl has been through so much trauma but is still resilient’

A children's social worker reflects on a challenging week...

By an anonymous social worker


I speak to a local police officer about a family I am working with, where the father uses heroin. He tells about their method of shoplifting by using the children to distract staff. Later I visit the family and talk to father about his life before he started using drugs.

However, as he’s now daily focussed on getting street drugs alongside his methadone and playing cat and mouse with police, any previous life is something he cannot recall.

The older child isn’t in nursery again and the parents have missed another medical appointment for the baby. The child protection plan isn’t working – the future looks bleak.


I make a visit to a young girl who is living with grandparents while mum addresses her drug habit. She is starting a new school and tells me how she is looking forward to making new friends; she has been through many traumatic experiences but is still resilient and optimistic. It’s encouraging to see her so positive.


Visit two young children in foster care today. It’s the carer’s first placement and their eldest child is resentful about other children coming in and challenging him. This often leads to fights.

Meantime, the family have recently got a pet that they cannot control and have to keep caged up in the kitchen, when they can catch it. The place seems chaotic and while there the foster mother rushes around so much she trips up a step and bruises her knees. We may have to think about moving the children on to a placement without competition.


The team meeting is dominated by the unallocated work as staff are on leave and there is a vacancy, plus staff chair one another’s meetings.  Covering all this makes it harder to complete tasks on our caseloads that need blocks of time, like child protection conference reports. However, team members seem to accept it as a fact of life, making it hard to challenge.


I get a phone call from a drug counsellor at a prison; the heroin taking father is there on remand for burglary. He has sworn on his children’s lives that he will now stop drug taking and committing crime and the counsellor is convinced he means it.

I tell her that it’s a promise he makes every time he is caught and give her feedback on attempts to work with the family and the poor outlook. The rest of the day is spent contacting family members to come and support the mother and children.

As team members leave the office there’s talk about catching up on reports over the weekend, many having spent time covering work apart from their own.

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