Social work diary: ‘The family has responded well to the parenting classes’

A children's social worker reflects on a week on the frontline...


It’s my fortnightly visit today to a family whose children have been on and off child protection plans. The parents typify the extreme kind of chaotic adults that we come across. Growing up in the chaos can leave children not knowing how to deal with the world in any way, shape or form.


At the team meeting we are told about action regarding the department’s computer system, it’s been malfunctioning for some time. It’s apparently being upgraded, so is offline for part of next week. We’ll have to write things down and then type them later. Some team members have never been without a computer.


News comes in from the police that one of my cases, a boy on a child protection plan, has been arrested again for driving offences. He can’t be charged with stealing the car as a relative bought it for him, so is being prosecuted for driving underage and without insurance. If convicted, his case will be taken up by the Youth Offending Team and he will be legally obliged to engage with them.

I’ve certainly not succeeded in engaging him, as he just wants to do whatever he wants and his father allows it. Occasionally they have a fight; dad wants to throw his son out and then changes his mind. They just can’t separate.


Further news comes in of the department’s computer system; it will be replaced next year. I wish I was selling the new one to them, it sounds lucrative. The current system is only a few years old.

Some light relief is found when I visit a family where the parents have really benefited from parenting courses. They can meet the children’s needs better now and the children are more relaxed and happy. Previously the children’s drawings were full of anxieties, now they seem to be able to get on with school life, making friends and just being normal children.

I seem to have got on with his family well, as I’ve been firm but fair with them. Mum says that when the last social worker left, one of her horoscopes said she’d meet someone who would turn her life around. She thinks it was me – quite a compliment! As a Capricorn, though, I don’t believe in horoscopes.


Passing a building site, I recognise it as offices where the children’s services were once based. The building started its life as an all-inclusive school for local children a hundred years ago; soon it will be luxury flats and all the local schools will be academies. How values change.

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