Social Work on TV

Posted on February 6th, 2012

There is a compelling documentary series on BBC 2 at the moment – Protecting our Children.   There is every likelihood that I am finding the series compelling because of the years that I spent as a front-line safe guarding Social Worker but interestingly many of my family and friends have become gripped to the reality of the situations that Social Workers come face to face with every day.

Last week’s episode was about a young child called Toby, whose parents Mike and Tiffany had apparent learning difficulties and despite a significant amount of time, multi-agency intervention, support and financial assistance there was no change in Tiffany and Mikes’ parenting abilities, their lives became increasingly difficult for them to manage, care proceedings were initiated and in the end it was Tiffany who took some control of the situation and made the decision that Toby (and his new born sister) would be better placed in someone else’s care.

The programme was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination; the Children’s Guardian was interestingly portrayed, the team manager showed an almost empty diary which certainly was not reminiscent of my diary as a manager in a safe guarding team and the external professional who undertook 40 sessions with the family and then declared that the Child Protection Conference that Toby’s developmental delay was genetic was enough to make anyone want to stand and raise an objection.

However, the hostility facing the Social Worker on her weekly visits in terms of the father being objectionable and argumentative, the appalling home conditions and the actively barking dog were all too real and I felt that as a newly qualified Social Worker, Suzanne having been allocated the case on the second day of being in post managed to navigate through the family’s resistance to change and the local authority’s apparent slowness to react with just the right amount of voiced concern and determination.

Tonight sees the second episode which I hope more of us will be watching and will continue to give the general public (or should I say those who are vaguely interested) greater insight into the dilemmas and decisions that feature every day in the life of a safe guarding Social Worker.

Avocet provides Independent Social Workers (ISWs) to undertake assessments of parents with learning disabilities.  We have ISWs who are PAMS trained and all of our ISWs have at least 5 years post qualifying experience of working with children subject to Child Protection Plans and care planning through legal proceedings.


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