A Day in the Life of ....

An Adoption Social Worker

Introduction 

I am Fiona and I work as an adoption support social worker in Derbyshire. There are 6 social workers in the team, two of whom are part time. We cover the whole of the county so, geographically, this can be a challenge. We also go out of county to support Derbyshire children placed outside of the county within the first three years of the adoption. After three years support the financial responsibility passes to the authority where the child is placed.

My daily routine

My day begins quite early - I like to get some peace and quiet to deal with e mails, phone calls and record case notes. I prioritise messages from parents who may be struggling with their child’s behaviour such as child-on-parent violence, disinhibited/risky behaviour and educational struggles. Very few adoptions break down but very many are only continuing because of the dedication and love shown by the parents. Adolescence is often the most challenging time for families so if we can support as much as possible and access therapeutic interventions via the adoption support fund we can add to the networks created by the parents. In addition to supporting families we also help adopted adults to access their birth records from DCC or the authority from where she/he was adopted. This can take some time and they can contain some painful information but we ensure that we create a safe space to share them. We don’t deal with child protection issues. These are all passed to the area teams but most social workers in the team have child protection experience.

There is great support in the team from a great bunch of business support workers and from excellent managers. We also work with three wonderful birth family support workers who get alongside parents during proceedings but continue to support following adoption in many cases for a number of years. These three play a significant part in ensuring that birth families continue to maintain indirect contact through letter box.

What would you say to someone considering this type of social work?

This is a great job. You really use your relationship based skills to get alongside parents and ensure that they gain the strength to maintain their therapeutic parenting. It is not a job to do on qualifying as its too specialised and you will need to take time to develop your sense of identity as a social worker and the confidence to recognise that your skills will make a difference. You will certainly need to have a few years under your belt in an area team first. The job is very varied and there are opportunities for group work in addition to the more traditional family work. It’s such a privilege to see the strength that the families show and to be part of preventing a breakdown in the parent/child relationship.



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