We are locality Children’s Social Care. We are split into 6 cluster areas, which together cover the whole of Wakefield City. Each cluster area has two or three social work teams with 6-8 workers in each team and one team manager. There are three Service Managers, Jane Wood, Esther Beresford and Jenny Smith, who manage two cluster areas each. The whole service is managed by our Head of Service, Monica Green.
Our job is to keep children safe and to help children and their families when there are problems, which they cannot solve themselves.
If a decision is made that a child needs an allocated Social Worker, they will be allocated to a Locality Social Worker. The Social Worker will complete an assessment to explore what the concerns are and identify a way to help the child and their family to make things better.
The Social Worker will involve a child’s parents, family, teacher and anyone else who works with the family, in the assessment, to make sure that they have got all the information they need to make sure a child is safe.
If a Social Worker thinks that the child’s family can manage their problems themselves, they will close the case, or they might ask someone else to help the family instead. If they think that the child needs a social worker to help them, the child will be supported with a child in need plan. This is when the social worker and other professionals work with the family to help them to solve the problems and keep the child safe.
Sometimes, if a Social Worker thinks that a child is at risk of being harmed in any way, they will speak to their Team Manager and a Strategy Meeting will be held. This meeting will involve a lot of different people, including the Police, health visitor or school nurse and school. If everyone agrees that a child is at risk of being harmed, or has been harmed, a Child Protection Conference will be arranged. A child protection plan is where everyone meets together, including parents, sometimes the child and all professionals working with the child and family, to make a good plan, which will hopefully keep a child safe. They will meet regularly to look at whether the plan is working.
There are times when the Social Woker thinks that children cannot be kept safe at home with their parents. When this happens the Social Worker will talk to the Head of Service, Service Manager and Solicitors, in a meeting called Legal Gateway Panel. The Panel will decide whether Public Law Outline should be put into place. This is similar to a Child Protection Plan but it is when parents are asked to attend regular meetings with their own Solicitor, the Social Worker and a Solicitor for Wakefield Council. A plan is put into place to keep the child safe, which is agreed by everyone involved.
When the Public Law Outline does not work, or if the Social worker thinks that the child is in immediate danger, the Social Worker will ask the Head of Service (either in Legal Gateway Panel, or if it is an emergency straight away) for agreement to make an application to the Court. An application to the Court might ask a Judge to consider agreeing to the children staying with someone other than their parents. This might be family or friends or this might be a foster placement. If the Judge decides that this is what is needed to keep a child safe, the child will become a child in care and Wakefield Council will share parental responsibility for that child.
In the Locality Teams we sometimes support children in care when they are living with their family or friends.
If they are living in a foster placement, the child will be allocated a new Social Worker in the Children in Care teams. The Locality Social Worker will make sure that they introduce the child to a new worker and will help and support the child until the new worker is able to do this.