Category Archives: Child Protection

Did I understand you?

Have you ever wondered how easy is it to communicate what you want to say? When you are anxious or nervous, angry, sad or just confused! for me I can find it very difficult and often find myself tripping over the words that I want to say.

However, as a Social Worker we learn that communication is a powerful tool that needs to be used carefully in order to make positive changes.  Some people would argue however, more could be done to support families in order to help them communicate with their social worker. 

Communication is therefore defined as: ‘the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium’: (Oxford dictionary).

As a Social Worker working with young people I find myself very conscious about how I communicate and often consider how I can create an environment that promotes communication.   Each person I meet is different, and the way that they want to talk to me is different.  Some prefer a soft caring approach, other young people need and prefer a firmer approach to help them feel safe.

But what is lost is that the spoken word is only a small amount of information that is being communicated at any time.  It is very easy to argue that someone is not listening.  However, it is not as easy to argue that someone is not listening when you are saying one thing whilst carrying out different actions.

There is no magic wand that can change this, our non verbal communication is often done by our subconscious.  And the most damaging especially when the Social Worker meets someone for the first time and the wrong signals are sent to each other, which means an honest exchange of information is going to be harder to achieve.

In order to safeguard children is is therefore important to understand for  families to understand it is okay to be challenged, as long as the points they are being challenged on are answered honestly.  It is also therefore okay for this to be reciprocated and families challenge decisions made in an appropriate way, either through the complaints procedure or Judicial Review depending on the decision being made.

It is in my opinion that certainly when working with young people that support is being provided to enable good communication, through their pathway planning, looked after children’s reviews, advocates or solicitors.  I would also like to see more children and young people being encouraged to take part in Participation events, working with Children’s Trusts to develop the services in their area to meet their needs.

I would also like to see the stigma being removed from people who need to have the support of Social Services and maybe their is a time for a change in title.  However, the role of the social worker is very important and families should not live in fear that Social Care may knock on their door.  Instead communities should work hand in hand with social care to promote a more positive supportive relationship, focusing on early intervention rather than removal.












Changing Times

Have you ever imagined a world where there is no need for Social Work within families or Children Social Workers.  For many families this will already be true, and for them it would be harder to imagine what Social Work is and why it takes place.  


David Cameron is an example of this, and this week announced his vision to end state monopoly on Public Services.  Cameron explains his rationale for this over his own experience of the care of his son; and his own  frustration over the Local Authority having control of the budget for this.  A feeling shared by most parents who have Children, that need extra support with a disability.   


Perhaps worryingly this explains the increasing erosion of front line services, that are so successful in engaging vulnerable families.  Agencies such as Home Start or Sure Start Children Centres.  Which often provide a life line to vulnerable, and young families who need simple and often basic support to improve their situation.  To be replaced with another vision of a Big Society where people will volunteer and support services and their own community’s. Something that has yet to be tested and tried in any large scale.


Being a Children’s Social Worker I do worry that through all of these changes that Child Protection is being forgotten despite being in the news for serious cases like Victoria Climbe (2003) that lead to the Laming enquiry and report.   Baby Peter, and from this the Munro investigation into Child Protection.  


I worry because we only just have the Munro interim report and her first report into Child Protection Part one from which, the key message was clearly early intervention and prevention is key for  preventing families to enter into the system and drifting within it.  What we have now seems to be a backward step being taken in an area, which is so key to the long term success for the child remaining within their family and achieve positive outcomes.  


Early intervention is not a new concept and the CAF (Common Assessment Framework (2006) was a way of creating an early assessment and a team around the child quickly.  To work with services to prevent families needing to come in to contact with Social Care.


I wonder whether Child Protection teams could be taken away from Council control and be part of a Profit making company or even a Non Profit making Charity such as the NSPCC who are the only other organisational body that can investigate Child Protection enquiry’s.  


I guess that if I had a vision it would be for Social Work teams working with Children and their families to begin their work earlier to prevent families breaking down.  It would be for Social Workers to support vulnerable groups such as looked after Children, Care Leavers, and Young Parents.  Supporting School’s with Challenging Behaviour and neglect.  Supporting parents with Substance misuse and helping families and parents develop their confidence to become part of the community that they live in.  But I guess that this is not really a big vision or even a new vision.  It is just a plea that all Social Workers are supported by everyone to reduce the stigma attached to having Social Care involved and promote the Job that we do initially to support family’s and then keep Children Safe!