Social Work Spotlights Part 2
Sam Wilson, April 7, 2014
As the ‘Social Work Showcase’ continues so does our focus on the work being carried out by those in the different areas of the profession.
This article will focus on those working with children and families in different environments. I am by no means an expert in this field but feel it is important that information is shared; the aim as ever is to raise awareness of some of the vital work being carried out by Social Workers.
We would love to hear from anyone working in this field or those who have had other experiences; I hope that we can create an open forum in which stories and experiences are shared. If you would be interested in sharing your story or opinions please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is virtually impossible to cover the entire world of Children’s Social Work in one short article but I hope that this will serve as a brief insight.
Work with children is primarily focussed on safeguarding those in situations in which they are or could potentially become vulnerable to harm. These include abuse, neglect, homelessness and mental health issues to name a few.
A child’s needs are always the primary concern of those working in this field. They must be quickly assessed and action taken to prevent potential harm before it occurs, whether this be providing families with much needed support or removing a child from a potentially harmful environment either on a temporary or permanent basis.
Children’s Social Workers must take responsibility for intervention and prevention when necessary, this places them in difficult situations in which tough decisions need to be made.
‘A single mother with a young son develops a substance abuse problem. A Children’s Social Worker is contacted by a Drugs, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Worker who reports concerns that her son is suffering from neglect. After a visit it is apparent that their concerns are well founded, the home is a mess and the child is clearly not being fed regularly, bathed or engaged with. It is now essential that the needs of both mother and child are assessed properly and quickly. The mother needs to be made aware of the situation and the ways in which she can be supported to reach a positive outcome. Immediate treatment is essential if she wishes to keep her son at home and the situation will need to be closely monitored. The decision at this point is at what stage, if needed, should the child be removed from this environment and taken into care? A balance must be established between the mother’s timescale for change and the child’s developmental needs and long-term wellbeing’
Where possible Children’s Social Workers will work closely with families ensuring that the needs of the parents/carers are met as well as those of a child.
Despite an archaic public perception, Social Workers are not constantly seeking to take children away from their parents. This is in fact an absolute last resort and a Social Worker will explore all possibilities that will allow families to remain together in the family home.
Work of this nature is not for the faint hearted and requires compassion, strong will and keen awareness in equal measure. It also requires individuals to work in collaboration with others when it comes to assessing needs and planning and delivering care services. These collaborations will take place in a variety of environments with a range of other people. This will include other social work professionals, healthcare professionals, the police, teachers and others working in education as well as family members and friends of those in need of help.
Potentially the most important attribute of a Children’s Social Worker is confidence, they must be confident in the decisions that they make and in the services that they provide. They will sometimes have to enter environments where they are not welcomed or wanted and have the confidence to justify their presence and gain compliance and, wherever possible, trust.
Working with children is always going to be one of the most difficult and delicate areas to work in, as well as the qualities listed above Social Workers will require extensive training, comprehensive support frameworks and a flawless understanding of policy and procedure.
Those that can handle the nature of the work and the trials that come with it will tell you of the overwhelmingly rewarding feeling of helping a child in need and the satisfaction of knowing that everyday they help make a significant difference to the lives of vulnerable children.