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I am a child protection social worker - AMA

148 replies

KeepingUpWithTheKs · 08/08/2022 12:20

I feel as though there are a lot of false information in the press and in general knowledge about child protection social workers so, ask me anything!

OP posts:
KeepingUpWithTheKs · 08/08/2022 21:20

coodawoodashooda · 08/08/2022 21:14

How seriously are referrals from Women's Aid taken?

They are taken seriously as it has come direcly from another agency who will already have a lot of safeguarding information. Domestic abuse is up there with one of the major risk factors when it comes to children.

OP posts:
Bottlesandjars · 08/08/2022 21:22

@KeepingUpWithTheKs my question seems to have been missed re: FII (page 2, 14:45)

KeepingUpWithTheKs · 08/08/2022 21:24

Hdhabvdhhebsb · 08/08/2022 21:19

What qualities as a person would you think help you be the most rounded social worker? I have utmost respect for social workers, because I couldn't imagine doing the role as I couldn't imagine both being concerned but yet remaining emotionally detached enough for it not to have consequences for myself...if that makes sense

Being able to assess without being too judgemental is what I believe is the most important skill. Of course we are always assessing, but it is important to be able to see the root cause of what is causing the concerns. So, rather than judging a mum whose house may be unclean and the children have difficult behaviour or missing school a lot. It would be about working with mum to help her to access the support she needs to provide better parenting and to help her to see why we have concerns.

If a parent feels judged, they will close off and not engage which will only have negative outcomes.

OP posts:
Anothernosebleed · 08/08/2022 21:24

No questions from me but just a thank you for the important work you’re doing.

My son is a Child in Need due to abuse from his dad last year and my experience of child protection social workers (we’ve had three since I initially raised concerns) has been that they all care so deeply and are doing their absolute best in really difficult circumstances.

KeepingUpWithTheKs · 08/08/2022 21:27

Bottlesandjars · 08/08/2022 14:45

Fabricated or Induced illness (FII)

What is your opinion on the huge increase of parents being accused of this ? It seems to be most prevalent among parents of children with SEN, ASD, EDS, ME, allergies, feeding /digestive issues, PoTs amongst others. Also often when one or both parent has ASD. There seems to be a huge connection to parents complaining about lack of care or services being available or asking for help/EHCP and then they find that a paediatrician or school has reported them.

Have you seen the guidance the independent social worker Cathie Long has produced on this subject ? I’m interested to know if it’s actually filtering through yet so that these families can be spared the hell they go through with an allegation of FII

Ah sorry for missing this!

With this being a relatively new phenomenon in social work, I think a lot of professionals are very much cautious as to leaving a child in a situation where this may be the case.

I have not personally seen the guidance, but this could be because I have not had a case where this has been suspected. I completely understand how awful it must be to be accused of this and to have a child who is genuinely poorly.

OP posts:
KeepingUpWithTheKs · 08/08/2022 21:28

Also, thank you for the lovely messages from those who have been posting without questions. It is so nice to see that our work can be recognized and we are simply always trying to do our best for our families.

OP posts:
Bottlesandjars · 08/08/2022 21:33

KeepingUpWithTheKs · 08/08/2022 21:27

Ah sorry for missing this!

With this being a relatively new phenomenon in social work, I think a lot of professionals are very much cautious as to leaving a child in a situation where this may be the case.

I have not personally seen the guidance, but this could be because I have not had a case where this has been suspected. I completely understand how awful it must be to be accused of this and to have a child who is genuinely poorly.

Thank you for answering. Yes I do wonder if it’s like you say the fact that as it’s relatively ‘new’ that social workers and courts tend to act quickly to remove children (it seems to be that a high percentage accused of this go on to lose their children). In reality I think genuine FII is rare but it seems they ‘cast the net wide’ to make sure they catch all the real , high risk cases and then end up with a huge amount of families who do have genuinely unwell children.

Hopefully once more is learnt things will change. Cathie Longs guidance is really good I would really recommend it if you get a chance

UnbearableLoss · 08/08/2022 21:33

When your colleagues resign what field of work do they tend to go to?

coodawoodashooda · 08/08/2022 21:33

Yes, thank you. I can't imagine how challenging it must be.

caz123456 · 08/08/2022 21:34

How do you build up rapport / bonds with the children to get them to open up if you have such a large number of caseloads? Especially the ones who are being protective over their parents and don't want to speak for fear of saying something wrong

KeepingUpWithTheKs · 08/08/2022 21:35

Bottlesandjars · 08/08/2022 21:33

Thank you for answering. Yes I do wonder if it’s like you say the fact that as it’s relatively ‘new’ that social workers and courts tend to act quickly to remove children (it seems to be that a high percentage accused of this go on to lose their children). In reality I think genuine FII is rare but it seems they ‘cast the net wide’ to make sure they catch all the real , high risk cases and then end up with a huge amount of families who do have genuinely unwell children.

Hopefully once more is learnt things will change. Cathie Longs guidance is really good I would really recommend it if you get a chance

I will definately be reading it, so thank you for the recommendation!

OP posts:
KeepingUpWithTheKs · 08/08/2022 21:36

UnbearableLoss · 08/08/2022 21:33

When your colleagues resign what field of work do they tend to go to?

So, I have often found that colleagues who leave the child protection team often go into other teams such as adoption or fostering. Also, I have had colleages go and work for volunteer services such as domestic abuse and early help.

OP posts:
KeepingUpWithTheKs · 08/08/2022 21:38

caz123456 · 08/08/2022 21:34

How do you build up rapport / bonds with the children to get them to open up if you have such a large number of caseloads? Especially the ones who are being protective over their parents and don't want to speak for fear of saying something wrong

Direct work is always key and taking it at the child's pace. There is never any use in pushing a child into opening up. The best thing to do is create space for the child to talk and to let them know every step of the way that you are there to support them. It can take a long-time and often it will be in the most unusual situations where I am not actually doing direct work but maybe on a car ride or having lunch etc where they feel most at ease.

The key thing for me is to let them know that I want to help them not just take them away which is often a child's fear.

OP posts:
purpleme12 · 08/08/2022 21:39

@KeepingUpWithTheKs what support does early help give? To children with some behaviour problems?

I have been reported so many times maliciously it's devastating 😓

Mrssophie · 08/08/2022 21:40

I graduated last year with a social work degree but I have ended up taking a slightly diffrent route, Still working with children but in a much less stressful role. One of the main reasons I decided not to continue with social work was the case load size and the fact I feel it impacts how well you can do your job. On placement I saw staff not even having the time to answer phone calls to family and worrying when to fit in visits because of all the admin work. It's a shame as well because no one goes into social work and the 3 years slog it takes of placement and Uni work if they weren't passionate about making a difference.

OP both my practice educator were fab would you consider doing this?

KeepingUpWithTheKs · 08/08/2022 21:41

purpleme12 · 08/08/2022 21:39

@KeepingUpWithTheKs what support does early help give? To children with some behaviour problems?

I have been reported so many times maliciously it's devastating 😓

I am so sorry to hear that, I cannot imagine how awful it must be.

Early help are great at working with families to get strategies in place to manage the behaviour and refer on for other support if necessary. They are an absolutely amazing team and I am 100% going to be moving on to early help when the time comes for me to leave.

OP posts:
KeepingUpWithTheKs · 08/08/2022 21:45

Mrssophie · 08/08/2022 21:40

I graduated last year with a social work degree but I have ended up taking a slightly diffrent route, Still working with children but in a much less stressful role. One of the main reasons I decided not to continue with social work was the case load size and the fact I feel it impacts how well you can do your job. On placement I saw staff not even having the time to answer phone calls to family and worrying when to fit in visits because of all the admin work. It's a shame as well because no one goes into social work and the 3 years slog it takes of placement and Uni work if they weren't passionate about making a difference.

OP both my practice educator were fab would you consider doing this?

Case loads and time management are a huge problem and it's only gotten steadily worse with budget cuts.

In regards to being a practice educator, it is never something I have considered purely because I love my work direct with families and this is where I really want to put all my focus on. However, again, when the time does come for me to move on it is something I would look into.

OP posts:
Marshatessa · 08/08/2022 21:57

How long do you think you will last in social work? Two years is still quite fresh and new.

Theillustratedmummy · 08/08/2022 21:59

Going to chip in here. Qualified sw here too with experience in a few different teams and different services.

What the general public often believe about social workers, their role and pressures etc could not be further from the truth. We are human, parents lie, we are not their 24/7 and cannot possibly pick up on everything. We cannot always 100% know the truth and even if we suspect it we need evidence and its often very very difficult to get. We cannot act without solid evidence fro multiple sources. We can only see the child and family when we see them in line with our policy or law, we cannot be there to see all the abuse or difficulties its impossible so we rely on families telling the truth and other professionals really taking responsibility and working with us and providing this evidence which they are often reluctant to do. Our goal is to keep families together with the correct support unless the risk to the child is significant, that is also the law. We may see a significant risk but courts do not agree because the evidence is not strong enough and there is nothing we can do.
I never ever visit without seeing the child and I don't know a single sw who would do so and get away with it. I don't take excuses and I dig deeper.
Yes you get rubbish sw but its complex, its more often that they have had inadequate training and support. I have never met a sw with bad intentions just because. They are usually drowning under stress. We have no staff because the job is hard, stressful and complex in every team. People burn out and leave. Leaving the remaining staff under even more pressure.
When we assess, we are fighting against our own bias which every single human has, confirmation bias and a broken system that makes it hard for us to actually do the job, its highly complex. Assessments are highly complicated and require multiple factors and knowledge bases. Eg we need to know law, child development, attachment theories etc etc it goes in and on its a hard process that most people cannot even comprehend.
We do not have a magic wand. Just because we step over a threshold dies not mean we can fix it. We cannot remove all children even in harmful situations because its against the law, himan rights, there are not enough placements and because the outcomes for children in care are very poor. We have to weigh up between poor outcomes at home or poor outcomes in care.
We do not ser thresholds but we have to stick to them and alot of the time that is down to professionals opinion and not always supported again its complex and not straight forward.
When the public wonders why sw are not responding its because we can be involved in every single child's life who may suffer some form of harm, we try but families need to be supported to function on their own and that is not always the role of a sw. It is hugely traumatic for families when ss get involved and we cannot take that lightly we need to balance that with the outcomes we can achieve for children. Services which we rely on for support or education have been slashed so we have nowhere to refer or families to and no support. We cannot possibly do all the direct work with families as we have no time and we are not experts im every single issue a family faces that would be impossible. So we need services who can do that and they are practically non existant.
I'm a specialist in two areas but I can't be all things to every family.
We take concerns seriously every single time but we do not make the decisions alone.

KeepingUpWithTheKs · 08/08/2022 22:04

Theillustratedmummy · 08/08/2022 21:59

Going to chip in here. Qualified sw here too with experience in a few different teams and different services.

What the general public often believe about social workers, their role and pressures etc could not be further from the truth. We are human, parents lie, we are not their 24/7 and cannot possibly pick up on everything. We cannot always 100% know the truth and even if we suspect it we need evidence and its often very very difficult to get. We cannot act without solid evidence fro multiple sources. We can only see the child and family when we see them in line with our policy or law, we cannot be there to see all the abuse or difficulties its impossible so we rely on families telling the truth and other professionals really taking responsibility and working with us and providing this evidence which they are often reluctant to do. Our goal is to keep families together with the correct support unless the risk to the child is significant, that is also the law. We may see a significant risk but courts do not agree because the evidence is not strong enough and there is nothing we can do.
I never ever visit without seeing the child and I don't know a single sw who would do so and get away with it. I don't take excuses and I dig deeper.
Yes you get rubbish sw but its complex, its more often that they have had inadequate training and support. I have never met a sw with bad intentions just because. They are usually drowning under stress. We have no staff because the job is hard, stressful and complex in every team. People burn out and leave. Leaving the remaining staff under even more pressure.
When we assess, we are fighting against our own bias which every single human has, confirmation bias and a broken system that makes it hard for us to actually do the job, its highly complex. Assessments are highly complicated and require multiple factors and knowledge bases. Eg we need to know law, child development, attachment theories etc etc it goes in and on its a hard process that most people cannot even comprehend.
We do not have a magic wand. Just because we step over a threshold dies not mean we can fix it. We cannot remove all children even in harmful situations because its against the law, himan rights, there are not enough placements and because the outcomes for children in care are very poor. We have to weigh up between poor outcomes at home or poor outcomes in care.
We do not ser thresholds but we have to stick to them and alot of the time that is down to professionals opinion and not always supported again its complex and not straight forward.
When the public wonders why sw are not responding its because we can be involved in every single child's life who may suffer some form of harm, we try but families need to be supported to function on their own and that is not always the role of a sw. It is hugely traumatic for families when ss get involved and we cannot take that lightly we need to balance that with the outcomes we can achieve for children. Services which we rely on for support or education have been slashed so we have nowhere to refer or families to and no support. We cannot possibly do all the direct work with families as we have no time and we are not experts im every single issue a family faces that would be impossible. So we need services who can do that and they are practically non existant.
I'm a specialist in two areas but I can't be all things to every family.
We take concerns seriously every single time but we do not make the decisions alone.

This is a perfect summary of everything!

OP posts:
KeepingUpWithTheKs · 08/08/2022 22:05

Marshatessa · 08/08/2022 21:57

How long do you think you will last in social work? Two years is still quite fresh and new.

I try not to think of how long I will last but know that when I stop being able to offer the care and support families need for whatever reason it will be time to move on.

OP posts:
boomoohoo · 08/08/2022 22:05

@Theillustratedmummy I agree with everything you've said (i'm a sw too)

Theillustratedmummy · 08/08/2022 22:06

Sorry for the spelling mistakes its been a long day.
I meant we cannot be involved in every single child's life who may suffer some harm.

boomoohoo · 08/08/2022 22:08

@KeepingUpWithTheKs you sound like a great social worker :)

Angrypandy · 08/08/2022 22:08

Thank you for everything you do. Strange one, but so you ever get a feel for people outside work who you don't trust? And do you think your work affects that? (The context is i have a daughter who is friends with a boy in her class. The Dad of the boy is very friendly and often drinks in the same pub as I do (it's a small place so nothing odd about that). However, my friend who is a social worker actively dislikes him and can't really explain why - the reasons she gives are a bit trivial - I can never decide is she is over reacting or if she has special social worker powers and he's not to be trusted (I find him a bit odd, but mostly fine).

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