How to work with a Social Worker

Whether it’s fostering or adoption or special guardianship cases, we, ordinary people, have to deal with Social Workers for a shorter or longer period of time and so far I haven’t met anybody who described this time as overly positive.

During the assessment process when the SW is asking all those probing questions and I am honestly revealing my deepest, darkest past, if the SW is any good it’s easy to feel like I am talking to a close friend. This is mistake number 1! She* is NOT your friend, she might be able to sympathise with what you are saying, she might even reassure you that ‘we all make mistakes, but don’t worry it will not affect your chances of being approved’, but pay close attention: she is not revealing any personal information about herself! You become an open book to her and she will make sure she reads all the fine prints twice about your life, but she will not make herself vulnerable to you – which is usually the basis of mutual trust that can develop into a close friendship! It’s so easy to miss the point and look at her as a trusted friend, tell her things she might ‘hear’ differently as a close friend would and it’s quite easy to get into trouble because she often needs to act on things you ‘just casually mentioned to her‘ between dipping two biscuits into the tea in your living room.

Social Worker Enemy or Partner in Adoption by Feelingmumyet

Power dynamics

As soon as it becomes clear that your future family growth depends on how good she is at assessing you and writing up the report you become very aware of the power she has over you and you reconsider your next words very carefully. I am a fairly confident person, but I got quite uneasy several times when I answered a ย question and she went ‘hmmm, ok? Tell me why?‘ or when she asked something, I started talking and she started writing. I politely stopped so she could catch up, but she just motioned with her hand for me to carry on without looking up. It filled me with confidence…not.

At the Panel she was our advocate. Her job was to convince the suspecting jury that we are nice people who know what they are signing up for. Once we got approved, we both looked at her as our champion who fought for us and won the battle for us! Then she disappeared…

Is the Social Worker the Enemy?

Following the fiasco with the Life Story Book and me going over the head of the SW to file a complaint with her supervisor obviously put us in the opposite corners. We argued if she had the common sense – since she clearly lacked the training to deliver such a sensitive work, and here lies the problem! For the SW it’s ‘only’ a piece of work they need to do before they can close the case once the adoption order is granted. For us, parents it’s another traumatic event that can (and did) poison our family dynamics and caused massive problems, while she was on holiday.

I spoke to the boys’ therapist who agreed that the children deserve an apology and explanation and most importantly reassurance so she decided to give a script to the SW. I suggested they make it into a letter that the SW can read and give to the boys to keep.

Is the Social Worker our partner?

By definition Social Workers are team players so why is it so hard to look at HER and ME instead of US. We are connected because we both have the same child/ren’s best interest in mind and at heart! When I wrote to her manager I underlined the fact that I do believe she cares for my children and that she didn’t deliberately wanted to hurt them. Lack of training, lack of resources, her managing far too many cases all at once… I do get it. Until very recently I was one of the few people who actually liked working with the Professionals (SW, therapist, School), because I love learning and I welcomed their informed inputs. I didn’t always agree with them of course, but I believe their is wisdom in council therefore I was always proactive in contacting them for advice or guidance.

The therapist gave her this letter to give it to the boys. She picked them up from school and I only saw them just before bedtime routines were to start. Both boys wanted to share the letter with me so they read it out loud. I was quite impressed that how it was worded. Children seemed to be happy with it and agreed with the content. I was thrilled to hear both boys thought it was a good idea to put the Life Story Books into the loft and never to look at it again!

The apology letter the SW was forced to make

Once the children were out of sight the SW was quick to clarify how unhappy she was about the content of the letter. She complained that she wasn’t part of the preparation, but for the sake of the children she didn’t say anything to them. She went on saying how unfair it was that the therapist wrote the letter and added the SW’s name to it without the SW having any input. I was about to respond with ‘well, you shouldn’t have gone on holiday’, but thank God my wise husband interrupted my less-than-helpful comment and said ‘we really appreciate you doing it despite your reservations, thank you’. Yes, I am glad he was so gracious!

It seems we still have our major differences and she still doesn’t appreciate the fact I tried (still do) to tell her how to do it differently in the future, but we can put those aside and work together as part of the team that has only one goal in mind: the happiness of our children!

That said I am very much looking forward to the day she no longer has to see us…!

PS: Both boys slept well tonight with no bed wetting or night terrors! BOOM! The apology and reassurance was very much needed!

Social Worker In Adoption Is Enemy Or Partner Feelingmumyet

*Both our and the children’s Social Worker are women so I will just use she instead of he/she

Update: This post was feautured on 21st July 2017! Thank you!
Lucy At Home

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48 thoughts on “How to work with a Social Worker

  1. Musings of a tired mummy...zzz... says:

    Social workers often get a bad press in the media. I know of parents who are adopting and have had negative experiences. It is a job I would never want to do and I can’t imagine how stressful it is but I can also understand the anger when bureaucracy and mistakes disrupt families. #thatfridaylinky

    Like

  2. diynige says:

    I have never dealt with social workers but they so often get the blame which could be fair and right. But it’s a job and wouldn’t want to do it really interesting read Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

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  3. Alana - Burnished Chaos says:

    At the end of the day it shouldn’t matter whether she was happy with the wording of the letter or that someone else did it for her. What matters is that it worked and the children feel better about the life story book mess. I still can’t believe she did that right before a holiday, very bad judgement on her part.
    #FabFridayPost

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    • feelingmumyet says:

      Oh yes, I completely agree. For all I care she can hate me all she wants, wr are not even having a business relationship, she needs to be professional towards my boys, not me! Thanks for reading and commenting

      Like

  4. Munchkin Shenanigans says:

    I’m so sorry you had such a bad experience with your SW. I have worked with many SWs and always think that we have a long way to go before the care and welfare for our children and vulnerable adults is where it should be!
    #blogstravaganza

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    • feelingmumyet says:

      Hello and welcome! Sadly I agree with you, we have a long way ahead, but slowly we are moving in the right direction I think… ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for reading and commenting

      Like

  5. tinmccarthy says:

    My friends had a dreadful experience with a social worker and a former foster child. It was traumatic for ME even to be a listening ear. Their next experience with their adopted son was great. Like any professions- there are good ones and bad ones I suppose.
    #blogstravaganza

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    • feelingmumyet says:

      Hello and welcome! Yes you are absolutely right, I know brilliant SWs and sadly those too who would benefit from a lot more training… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Thanks for reading and commenting

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  6. Lucy At Home says:

    I am glad that the letter has helped your boys. I remember reading the earlier post about how badly the memory book had been handled and it was upsetting to read about, never mind live through. I hope that they can set this aside now and that the SW can learn from her mistake #blogcrush

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  7. Kitty says:

    Not had the best experience with social workers but understand the one who came to see my Mum when I was adopted was superb. Well done you on making the adoption choice in the first place

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  8. Heather Keet says:

    I once thought of becoming a social worker but I’m not sure I would hold up to the emotional stress well. I am a joker and I’ve even made coffin jokes at funerals because serious is hard for me. #BlogCrush

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  9. ethannevelyn.com says:

    I am so glad that you’ve got the therapist to write to SW to write the apology letter to the kids. It makes such a difference, despite her denial of needing some training. What a shame, she can’t even take a constructive criticism. She sure is a Frienemy! #FabFridayPost

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  10. Mrs Mummy Harris says:

    I can understand why the SW wasn’t happy her name was put to something that she didn’t write, but like you said previously, she shouldn’t have landed this big bombshell that shifted the boys and then swanned off on her jollies. She should accept her mistake, and also accept this letter has seemingly helped the boys settle that little bit more.
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week.

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  11. popcornforlunch1 says:

    Was there really a need for her to get her point across about the letter? It served the main purpose of reassuring your boys so why couldn’t she just have been happy to leave it that? I’ve had no personal experiences of SWs but a few ‘run-ins’ when I worked as a solicitor.- they weren’t positive unfortunately ~ #BlogCrush

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  12. Lisa Pomerantz says:

    I hope your nights continue to be safe and peaceful for all. I am so sorry for this experience that you all endured. I never was in such a situation, but I can certainly see an opportunity for better SW behaviors and experiences. may you all be well! #BlogCrush xo

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  13. Accidental Hipster Mum says:

    I remember reading the life story book post last time I visited your blog, totally shocking! I can’t believe she basically denounced the letter too! I can’t help but think she is perhaps not cut out for this job. I’m glad your boys slept well once again though.

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time x

    Like

  14. feelingmumyet says:

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment – I do appreciate it a lot. I hope the adoption order goes through soon and then we don’t have to deal with her again…

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  15. wendy says:

    Very interesting read. I’ve never had to have any contact with a social worker but I’m sure people who will need to work with one will find this post very informative and useful xx #kcacols

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  16. Tracey Bowden says:

    I’ve never had to work with social workers before but I can see how hard it must be to build a relationship so you both do what is best for the children. So glad the apology letter worked for them x #kcacols

    Like

    • feelingmumyet says:

      Yes, it’s a tricky balance, but over the last week I think I have come to a much better position to work WITH HER as opposed to work against her. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Like

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