Home visit from social worker

Posted on Sunday, 30th Aug, 2015 at 08:13:32 PM
When social workers first come knocking on your door it is almost certainly because they believe your child or children may be in some form of danger.

Their reasons for thinking this can be from a number of sources - a malicious telephone call from your next-door neighbor who doesn't like you, to a genuine call from a school teacher who thinks an injury may not have been accidental. Many, many, first time visits are prompted by anonymous and malicious telephone callers to your local social services office.

All social workers have a statutory duty to investigate allegations of possible child abuse, whether those allegations appear true or false. However, the initial investigative visit is where most problems usually begin. This is because many social workers lack investigative expertise and are forced to depend solely upon first impressions and gut feelings when they first interview you.

It is, therefore, very important that as a parent under investigation, you realize that in about 90% of all cases, there will be no solid reason or scientific foundation for what the social worker may do next. The social worker's next move (after the initial visit) will usually depend upon how comfortable or uncomfortable he felt when he was in your company. It is equally important that you control the situation so that you are not victimized by the social services bureaucracy.

Practical tips for each and every visit by a social worker:

You have every right to expect that the social worker who calls is honest, truthful, a person of integrity, well trained and properly supervised. In our experience, however, we can tell you that we have never yet come across a social worker who has all these qualities. It is important, therefore, that you assume the worst and act accordingly.

Be polite to your visiting social worker, but do not, under any circumstances, welcome him/her or treat him/her as a friend. Be polite and courteous, but maintain an air of formality. He/she is investigating an allegation that your children may be in danger and, like a police officer, he is expecting you to be as devious as any criminal. If you treat him/her as a friend, he/she will assume you are attempting to hide the violent/vicious side of your character. Also, if it's not convenient to talk to him/her at that moment, you have every right to ask him/her to call again 'at a more convenient time'.

As soon as they indicate that they are from a social services organization, ask for two pieces of identification. Don't settle for a business card; make this person identify themselves to your satisfaction. Insist on some form of picture identification, such as a driver's license. If they do show you a driver's license, copy the information down. If they refuse to identify themselves to your satisfaction, explain that you don't normally admit people into your home who won't provide proper identification, and politely ask them to leave.

Before making any decision about allowing him/her into your home, tell him/her politely that you are perfectly willing to answer any questions that you consider are relevant, but that you would prefer those questions to be in writing. Your answers will be in writing - this way, nothing that either of you has said, can be misinterpreted or misunderstood. If he/she objects strongly to this, you will have to decide whether you are going to talk to him/her or not. If you don't, your social worker has the potential power to cause you a lot of problems (to teach you a lesson).

Whether you allow your visiting social worker into your home, or not, make it very clear that you intend to write down EVERY word that passes between you. Tell him/her that at the end of the interview you will expect him/her to sign each page as verification that it is a true account of everything that has been said. If they refuse, ask them to leave.

Also let the social worker know that you are going to video or tape record the interview so there are not any misunderstandings about what was written versus what was said. Sit the social worker down in spot that you (not they) choose, and turn on the camera. Clearly state the date and time, then ask the social worker if they understand that they are being recorded, and if they have any objections to being recorded. If they object, politely ask them (with the camera running) to state their reasons for not wanting to be recorded. At this point, you must decide whether or not to proceed. If you choose not to proceed, inform them that they must leave.

YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO MAKE WORD FOR WORD NOTES OF ALL INTERVIEWS - whether they occur in your home or on social services premises.

If the social worker wants to look around your home (they almost always will), allow them to do so. You may, at this point, consider taking pictures or video of the rooms they inspect to show exactly what they looked like at the time of the visit. If you can get the social worker in the picture, so much the better. A camera that puts a time and date stamp on the picture is a plus.

If your child is on the Child Protection Register, the social work department have a duty to complete announced and unannounced meetings in the family home..

If your child is on a Child in Need plan, most visits are announced, but this depends on each local authority.........

Read the 2 feedback comments
By Caroline Roberts (from North Wales) on 31-Aug-2015
As an individual you generally can record what you like (though you can only play it back to those people on the recording or to yourself), but you cannot record people without their knowledge and permission and then expect to use that recording in a court of law. There is a mass of law around this area - far too much to go into here. Can I record a meeting or a telephone call with a social worker? You should only record a conversation if you have the other persons permission... If you ask your child's social worker or the chair of the meeting and they say no, be prepared to give your reasons why you would like a recording. This might be because: You have trouble remembering what happened at meetings and this would help you later You have a disability and you need extra help like recordings to help you understand and remember English isnt your first language and you find listening again helps you understand You want to make sure you have an accurate record as you dont like to rely on someone elses record. If you are still told the answer is no, you could think about making a formal complaint but you should consider whether this is going to help your child in the long run. Sometimes it can be harder to work with social workers after you have made a complaint especially if your child still has the same social worker. If you plan on using the recording only to establish for yourself that the minutes of the meeting are correct, then by all means do so. If you hope to use it in a court of law, bear in mind that the civil courts tend not to allow 'cheats to prosper'...which means your recording is more likely than not to end up 'disregarded'. If you feel that your recording establishes that the minutes are so grossly inaccurate that they are disfavourable to you, then I would suggest you take the minutes and the recording to a solicitor for him/her to review the issue in greater detail. There are confidentiality rules in place to protect a client/patient in the case of GP's and solicitors though, Data Protection etc. Social Services is a very opaque organisation. They do not like to have their procedures questioned, even when they are unjustified or over the top. For the most part they are acting in the best interests of the child/vulnerable party etc, but there are occassional cases when a Social Worker/Department acts as if they are above reproach. Ultimately I am firmly of the belief that if there is nothing to hide and they are following procedure there is no reason to object to being recorded. If you record any meetings with social workers and you have not ask permission first, most of the time no matter what is said can not be used. You can record with permission and if there are things inaccurate within the recording that you could use in court, you can have it transcribed and used as evidence....
By Gordon Jones (from Wales) on 30-Aug-2015
Can you record any visits with social workers when it is in your own home? Can I ask for all meetings to be recorded?


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