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AIBU?

To want to be a social worker?

27 replies

Mum233 · 18/10/2022 20:43

I am currently in a leadership role in a secondary school and a safeguarding lead. The next step career wise is becoming a Headteacher. The nearer I get to that, the more I realise this is not what I want and what I would actually like us to pursue a career where safeguarding is a huge part of the role. This is an element of my job that I really love and seem to do well at.
This has led to me wanting to retrain as a social worker.
Is anyone a social worker that could tell me honestly what it’s like? Is it possible to juggle this job with having children? Be honest!
Thank you!

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

14 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
64%
You are NOT being unreasonable
36%
rumred · 18/10/2022 20:54

I was a social worker /manager in safeguarding /child protection for many years. It is soul destroying for lots of reasons. In your shoes I'd meet with practicing social workers /managers and listen to their accounts. Teachers come in for a lot of flack but social workers are hated. It's a no win job often. And the IT systems tend to be shit. And funding is rarely adequate.... I could go on.
However, you may be suited to it and have good resilience and thick skin so I wouldn't want to dissuade you. Just make sure you hear what practitioners have to say before you make a decision. Re work life balance, the mental and emotional pressures seep into your life. There can often be physical overtime but all teams are different.
And good luck with whatever you decide

Newpuppymummy · 18/10/2022 20:56

Look at step up to social work

BeanieTeen · 18/10/2022 20:59

I’m not a social worker but I have two in the family. They care so much about their work but it’s obvious to everyone they are not happy. It comes across as a very much thankless and soul destroying career to be frank. Not enough pay, not enough resources and not being able to do your job as well as you’d wish, no matter how hard you work. I think made all the more sad and difficult because people who go in to it do so for the best of reasons and genuinely want to make a difference.

AnnieHoooo · 18/10/2022 21:00

It's the out of hours duty work that put me off.

FebMama · 18/10/2022 21:07

I work in Youth Justice so work alongside social workers daily. Before this role, multiple family based roles including front line child protection. I went through a phase of wanting to be a social worker but after years of seeing the reality, changed my mind. And not going into social work was the best thing I ever did.
Social workers in my area are under immense pressure, most are/have been on long term sick for goodness knows how long. Most social workers are unbelievably overworked, given unrealistic caseloads alongside impossible deadlines. It's all a big mess if I'm being honest.

That said, there are many forms of social work - adults, children, through care, mental health social workers. But I would imagine it's all very much of the same in terms of issues.

Sorry if this post is all doom and gloom but there's very few positives I can share. The rewarding nature of the job and safeguarding and protecting our most vulnerable children and young people is just massively overshadowed by all the bad stuff sadly :(

I also don't think it's a very family friendly job in the slightest. Of course this is just my opinion and I welcome any social worker to come and tell me otherwise - it would be nice to hear more positives!

I hope this helps and good luck in any decision you make.

HarvestTimeMuthafluffa · 18/10/2022 21:13

@Mum233 were having a sort of swap! I'm a social worker who is moving fully into education (School Social Worker and DSL)

I was a Child Protection SW, and quite honestly, no, I wouldn't have managed with kids. The ones who I know who do have young kids have a ton of family support (I do too, but I still wouldn't choose to do it with young kids).

It's all consuming and stressful. It's amazing and life changing. You're in such a privileged position working with these children who have such huge capacities for resilience, it's mind blowing and devastating all at once.

All of the social workers I work with currently (I'm in an adjacent role inbetween education and social work) are tired, unwell and desperate for change.

ManAboutTown · 18/10/2022 21:14

From all I have heard it is the caseload particularly in the inner cities that is the real killer so workers feel they aren't doing their job properly.

A PP mentioned more resources which I guess means more people but what makes me angry and depressed is the sheer number of neglectful, alcoholic, drug addled and abusive parents out there. Even if their kids get taken away the care home system is a disgrace and seems to be a conduit for grooming gangs and drug dealers

BimBimBaloo · 18/10/2022 21:16

I worked in child protection in an incredibly deprived area for a few years, honestly it nearly destroyed my mental health and my relationship, I got out before having kids as knew how hard it would be to balance both, and my own children would end up sacrificing so their mam could go out and look after other children.
I've worked in a Fostering service now for a number of years, it has its faults, and there are stresses, but different types of stress, nowhere near the stress and fear from working front line child protection. I know I can finish work on time (mostly!) for my kids and I can switch off at the weekend. I do feel a bit stuck though as there isn't as much career progress, but I'm happy putting that to the side whilst I have small children at home who need my focus.
Jobs in fostering don't come up massively often and are nearly always filled by internal staff, so you have to do your stint in frontline to get in.

I absolutely love my job though, and couldn't imagine doing anything else, despite all the crap that goes with it and the CONSTANT bad press. If you have the passion, go for it. I always think if you can make one small change for a child's life, then you're making a different. It helps me get by.

Wibbly1008 · 18/10/2022 21:16

don’t do it. It’s a nightmare job and you’ll end up hating it, like we all do. The rewards are small and infrequent, the shit keeps raining. Don’t do it.

simonsaysquack · 18/10/2022 21:20

Research Virtual Schools, it's the mid place between education and children's social care.

(Hint: they aren't online learning centres)

HighlandPony · 18/10/2022 21:22

My auntie is a social worker. She doesn’t work with kids or families anymore she consciously moved into adult care and mostly works with elderly and disabled folk now. It’s not something you want to do. It’s not family friendly, it’s not mental health friendly, it’s not even a job anymore it’s just ticking boxes and fighting fires before they catch a hold.

boomoohoo · 18/10/2022 21:29

What is it about youre safeguarding role that you enjoy? Maybe if you unpick it a bit, we could advise. There are some LA's where you just do initial assessments and hold cin plans, and take cases to initial cp conference if going that way - and then hand over to cp team. Thats a bit more bearable than cp and court work in my opinion.

Sw is in quite a bad state atm, but its not all doom and gloom - it's an incredible job (working with looked after children can be very rewarding, although safeguarding not the primary focus)

Mum233 · 18/10/2022 21:33

Thank you for all of the replies. I LOVE the safeguarding lead part of my job. Making decisions to battle to get the right outcome, working with difficult families and just have a keen interest.
I was failed by social workers as a child and now have a need to try and right this wrong!

Any other jobs that’d be worth me looking at? X

OP posts:
HarvestTimeMuthafluffa · 18/10/2022 21:52

@Mum233
Virtual School (depending on area wfh based but can be badly paid)
Fostering
Emotional well-being teams
Family Support Teams
Multi Systemic Therapy Teams

boomoohoo · 18/10/2022 21:55

Tbh, if you work in a school and you feel inspired by sfg and not burnt out, I think your ripe for social work!

Uberbeeboo · 18/10/2022 22:11

I'm a SW student and weeks away from graduation. I'm currently on placement in a children's team and to be honest, it's nowhere near as bad as I expected. Yes, my caseload is small compared to everyone else's, but nobody is overly stressed and there is a lot of support from the team. Working directly with children is my favourite part, yet it can be upsetting and frustrating. It is a very assessment heavy role, however once you get used to the systems and have a decent contact book, it really is not too stressful at all. I have attended court a few times to observe and noticed this is what seems to cause SW's the most stress. There is a lot of travelling to and from visits and occasionally you may pick kids up and take them places, I enjoy this the least as I hate driving in unknown areas. You are expected to stay late should you be on duty or if one of your families are in crisis, but that's not typical.

We need more good Social Workers. If safeguarding is your passion, then go for it.

Keeva2017 · 18/10/2022 22:38

Don’t do it. I work for a relatively good LA and honestly, no one lasts longer than a handful of years. It burns you out, you have no work life balance and you live in fear of missing something/worst happening.

With all due respect you might love the safeguarding aspect of your current role but it doesn’t scratch the surface of being a children social worker.

Proteinpudding · 18/10/2022 22:41

If you're in a safeguarding role, talk to the social workers you meet - a big part of whether the job is stressful or crossing the line to unbearable is what state the local authority is in, eg whether there is stable management, how high the rate of turnover/proportion of agency workers there is.
It is a hard job but if you have managed in a school then you're probably more resilient than most.

One thing to be aware of is 'working late' can mean different things to social workers and have a big impact on whether the job can be doable with family. Children's social work means visiting children at home, which means the vast majority of visits are done at the end of the day. That means that on a normal/none duty/non emergency day, most days you'll have appointments in a 4 or 4.30 at someone's house. You can't just walk out when you need to, you might be visiting on the opposite side of your town to your office base/commute home. Most children's social workers I know don't think of routinely finishing visits by 6 and then traveling from that visit as 'late working", that's routine, and working late means an 8pm, 9pm or later finish (eg dealing with an emergency like a child who has an unexplained injury and can't be sent home to parents)

It is a mainly female workforce so lots of people have children, but it's not usually the social worker who is the main carer/responsible for getting the children from after school club five days a week, because that isn't practical. If a strict finishing time is needed, people tend to move to adoption or fostering as while those jobs are still busy, the visits can be done during the day and if working over is needed, it's paperwork that can be done at home after dealing with your own children!
On the flip side there is usually more flexibility about the morning school run...

Cw112 · 18/10/2022 22:56

I work parallel to social work teams. I think there are many different types of social work to be fair, I think gateway and Family intervention would be quite brutal to be honest as it would involve removing children and realistically noone really wants you involved due to the power SWs hold (whether they're enforcing that power or not). There's a lot of lone working involved and you may not always feel entirely safe at times which would be a big one for me and the paperwork and caseloads are very intense and are ever increasing. That being said, I work closely with a lot of 16+, leaving care, aftercare teams and most of them seem to enjoy their jobs, they haven't been directly involved in the breakdown of a family so are maybe better placed to build a relationship with vulnerable teens and young adults. Positives for social work I would say is better pay than charity equivalent work, good training and job security (as long as you always cover yourself with your paperwork and evidence your decision making), good options for career development, lots of different types of social work you could move into eg mental health,/ youth/elderly/disability. Negatives I would say is high staff turnover, burnout, it's a high stakes job and as a worker you can be very vulnerable to accusations and allegations, very demanding emotionally and mentally and very stressful. It's not a job you'd be able to leave at work every day and come home clear headed, some days you'll take it home with you. I also notice massive differences between the teams I work alongside, some have fabulous culture and they all support each other really well, others it's the opposite they can't retain staff and everyone is stressed and struggling.

Alternatives would be working in the charity or community sector, or looking at starting a freelance consulting business and offering safeguarding advice to schools/ businesses/organisations and delivering training. I wanted to do social work initially, didn't get on the course and instead studied community and youth work and honestly I'm really glad it worked out that way because I'm still working in safeguarding, I still work within the spectrum of the care system but everyone I work with engages with me voluntarily because they want to and I can support them and build good professional relationships with them as a result. I still need to work very hard to build their trust but considering their past experiences that's to be expected.

FebMama · 18/10/2022 23:09

OP, I worked as a Multisystemic Therapist for a few years before doing what I do now. If not social work, then this kind of work can be a similar alternative. Although again, can be quite intense and I feel only done for a short period of time (a few years) before burnout.

I currently work in Youth Justice and although not a safeguarding team, safeguarding the young people I work with and working collaboratively with social workers is a huge part of the role whilst delivering interventions to them and trying to make a positive difference in their lives. It's always so rewarding to see young people turn their lives around from offending and criminality to much brighter futures. Doesn't always work out that way, but may be right up your street x

Summerstarsarepink · 05/02/2024 20:53

FebMama · 18/10/2022 21:07

I work in Youth Justice so work alongside social workers daily. Before this role, multiple family based roles including front line child protection. I went through a phase of wanting to be a social worker but after years of seeing the reality, changed my mind. And not going into social work was the best thing I ever did.
Social workers in my area are under immense pressure, most are/have been on long term sick for goodness knows how long. Most social workers are unbelievably overworked, given unrealistic caseloads alongside impossible deadlines. It's all a big mess if I'm being honest.

That said, there are many forms of social work - adults, children, through care, mental health social workers. But I would imagine it's all very much of the same in terms of issues.

Sorry if this post is all doom and gloom but there's very few positives I can share. The rewarding nature of the job and safeguarding and protecting our most vulnerable children and young people is just massively overshadowed by all the bad stuff sadly :(

I also don't think it's a very family friendly job in the slightest. Of course this is just my opinion and I welcome any social worker to come and tell me otherwise - it would be nice to hear more positives!

I hope this helps and good luck in any decision you make.

Hi
I’ve just been offered a role as a YJP for a local council. Was previously a teacher . Can I ask - is it extremely emotional ? Stressful ? Can I ask for any extra info. I had thought of social work but think it would be too much ! But I wonder how the Youth role is ?

Summerstarsarepink · 05/02/2024 20:59

FebMama · 18/10/2022 23:09

OP, I worked as a Multisystemic Therapist for a few years before doing what I do now. If not social work, then this kind of work can be a similar alternative. Although again, can be quite intense and I feel only done for a short period of time (a few years) before burnout.

I currently work in Youth Justice and although not a safeguarding team, safeguarding the young people I work with and working collaboratively with social workers is a huge part of the role whilst delivering interventions to them and trying to make a positive difference in their lives. It's always so rewarding to see young people turn their lives around from offending and criminality to much brighter futures. Doesn't always work out that way, but may be right up your street x

Hi
Can i ask your experience of 6 Youth justice . I am a teacher . Was a teacher but have been offered a Youth justice practitioner role. I’m nervous it will be extremely hard emotionally ? Just really interested to hear an opinion. I used to work a good 60
hours a week as a teacher ( planning and marking ) and with 3 young children couldn’t continue .

Bluewedgeshoes · 05/02/2024 21:19

I'm a child protection manager and have been in front line social work for over 10 years. I'm going to against the grain and say if you are resilient and organised and care about children it's a great job! It's varied, you use your brain and your social skills. I find it very flexible , well paid for public sector, not unfamily friendly and I don't dread going to work. It is stressful, caseloads are too high and it can be relentless. It's definitely not for everyone but if you can survive education I reckon you will be fine in social work.

Quitelikeit · 05/02/2024 21:26

You were failed by social workers?

Social Workers actually have very little control and influence over anyone’s life.

They adhere to law and the criteria for intervention is getting stricter and stricter because there is no money.

These families have grown up around abuse and they know no different. You going in and telling them how it should be done and what they’re doing wrong makes you as popular as a wasp sting.

Many people believe SWs are out to get their children and you will be treat as such. There will be no trust and likely no change in the family. There’ll just be more deceit until they can’t keep things under wraps anymore and a fight explodes and the police are called.

And because it was 6 mos since the last fight your boss might tell you to put them on a CiN and it’ll all be good for a few Months and closed again.

Before you know it you get a case and you’ll see it’s been open and closed 15 times and abuse has been present in various forms for the best part of a child’s life. Now little Tommy is truanting. A product of his upbringing. Soon you might even be doing a pre birth assessment on Tommy and his 14 yo pregnant GF when he batters her.

Yes that’s how it goes, more often than you think.

Run for the hills!!!

The biggest mistake is thinking you can improve a child’s life. Those who get removed do not see it that way. In fact it is painful, harrowing and even cruel.

There’ll be nightmares too.

Sorry!!!

Bryonny84 · 05/02/2024 21:29

Family member has been a social worker for years. Now in her fifties it is killing her. Team colleagues left and not replaced, case loads filter down to those left, appalling management, stress through the roof. She can't wait to retire.

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