Our role is to work with children and their families where the children are at risk because of child neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and physical abuse.
When a child is deemed to be at significant risk of harm and has been or is likely to continue to experience the above whilst in the care of their parents, then generally an application if made before the Court for a Statutory Care Order i.e. for the child to be placed in the care of the HSE who then assumes the role of ‘loco parentis’.
Our main aim to maintain a child in the care of its parents and all supports and interventions are given to the family in an effort to achieve this aim. However, in certain cases these interventions do not effect change in the child’s circumstances or the parent’s ability to change. In this regard, we usually then consider care proceedings which is an option of ‘last resort’.
How did you go about getting your current job?
It was advertised in a job section on newspaper. I went for a formal interview and received a letter stating my success in getting the position. Within the HSE, a panel of successful applicants is formed after the interviews and this panel usually remains ‘active’ for a year in that there is a chance you may be offered a position within that timeframe.
What are the main challenges?
As a family’s social worker, we continue to assess the family’s situations and apply interventions accordingly. One has to continue to keep ‘their eye on the ball’ within this profession as many of the family’s difficulties can be very much underlying and covert or ‘hidden’ to an extent. Our job is to continually investigate the child’s circumstances.
Also it can be challenging when continuing to working with parents when Court proceedings are involved. You must be able to handle this confrontation as well as maintaining your role as a ‘support’ to the family while attempting to effect positive change in family circumstances.
It’s important to remember that when working with a family you should always be ’firm but fair’ as you may have to be appropriately confrontational when addressing issues and concerns while also remaining fair and understanding some people’s life circumstances.
Team support and support from colleagues is a pivotal factor in sustaining oneself in this job. Also knowing that there are very few people I know who could undertake this work which in itself is an indicator of the skills unique skills and abilities required for this role.
What's not so cool?
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
Good time managements skills, an ability to relate to people, patience and being non judgemental as well as being empathetic of people’s circumstances and good time spirit and ethics - plus a sense of humour !!!
Describe a typical day?
Everyday is very different in this job particularly given the variety of our responsibilities and the fact that we work with a variety of different people. Within a normal working day, one can find themselves doing the following;
home visits to clients
direct work with children
facilitating access for children in care with their birth family
participating in court proceedings and preparation for same
networking with other professionals involved in a case