Social work diary: ‘This week’s been fraught with communication problems’

A social worker reflects on a week in child protection...


I am working to get two children back home to their mother; they are on a respite placement that’s lasted longer than anticipated.

Mother has done well to build up good support from her family and friends. When I visit her to go over plans for the future, her dad is present, looking as if he is being watchful in case she says the wrong thing.

We discuss some plans, but mother still does not recognise the crisis she was in before the children came into care. That is a lot to expect, and we will have to test out how the rehabilitation works.


Today is fraught with communication problems – many clients’ mobile phone numbers on our computer system no longer work. In one case four phone numbers are like that. Some email addresses are equally outdated. So I’m reduced to cold calling on two cases, neither of whom is in.

A post-Christmas feeling pervades the team; there are half empty containers of biscuits and chocolate lying around in the office, which in turn looks bare without Christmas decorations. Anecdotes of Christmas, New Year celebrations and New Year resolutions seem to dominate the chat.


This morning I attend a Core Group; the parents are veteran drinkers, and all their other children live with relatives. There is one child left, who can barely be contained in his primary school despite even with much specialist input.


I visit the two children who are being rehabilitated. They are keen to hurry things up, and convincing them we have to try things slowly is difficult. They and their mother seem to have forgotten how bad things were before they came into care, such as the children having to make their own food.

Later, I make a visit to a case I started visiting before Christmas. The child is of mixed race parentage and doesn’t see his dad. There’s only a few other non-white children in his school, so he gets taunted about his racial origins along with his excess weight. We talk about a typical day in school for him and he tells me that he’s always vigilant about where the next jibe will come from, which makes it hard to concentrate on lessons.


I get a call from the alcohol agency that is working with the parents of Wednesday’s Core Group. I’m told that one doesn’t attend at all and the other barely engages. That will be some interesting information to challenge them with on my next visit.

Later I try to visit a family who have moved to a new address, it cannot be found by Satnav and isn’t on any map. Dad meets me by a local shop and guides me. This week’s been fraught with communication problems.

Oh well, only a few months till the Easter holidays.

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