Social work diary: ‘The girl asks if Santa will bring her any toys now?’

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

A santa toy and christmas tree
Picture: Kevin Dooley (Flickr)


I visit a family where the father got a job three months ago, after a lengthy time unemployed. Although it was a zero hours contract, the family were looking forward to having a good Christmas. Yesterday his work abruptly ceased- he is still employed but not working, so it is back to benefits again. Everyone feels very disappointed and their young girl asks me if Santa will bring her any toys now?


I’ve a case of a teenage girl with a baby in a foster placement. It’s been a harrowing time for everyone as there were concerns over the placement that meant it was almost ended. Both the young person and the carer are still shaken and it will take them some time for them to recover their confidence.

I speculate to myself whether it could have been dealt with in more humane way.


A member of the team is leaving and is trying valiantly to complete their handover visits to their families with those of us taking over the cases. It’s challenging, as a third of the team are on leave. Even seeing the families we are supposed to and writing those up takes much of our time, never mind summaries.

I go on a visit to a family whose house appears to be the neighbourhood dog minding service, as it is inundated with canines. The parents have not got rid of the strays they took in, as asked. As they have two very young children and another coming we get a written agreement that they will get rid of all but one dog. Looks like it’ll be a challenging case.


I see some children in school and they both tell me about dad’s new partner, and how she shouts at them a lot.

On visiting the family later, I can well understand what they mean.  When the partner speaks, it is like a verbal howitzer, her tone of voice and its content lands right in the middle of what anyone else is trying to say. The children look hesitant and sad and it is time to bring forward their children in need meeting, I think, as things have significantly changed for them.


The person that’s leaving comes into the office early afternoon, having only just finished all their required visits. They focus on writing those visits up, and the ones they did till very late the previous night. They tell me they will just have to send the remaining summaries in later. It’s not ideal but we could all be in the same position.

Their leaving card has got lost and no one collected for a leaving present. As I am  the only team member there, I can only give them my best wishes and promise to send their card on when it is found.

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