When you are in care, it can be mind boggling trying to work out who all the different people involved with you are and what they do! Here is a little guide that hopefully will help. We have tried to think of all the main ones but there might be some that we have missed out that you want including. If you have any suggestions to make this section work better for you then contact us.
What is a Social Worker?
Your social worker is a Children's Social Worker (CSW) and is the person that will be your main contact over the time that you are in care. You should know their name and how to contact them - you can do that here if you like, in the Contacts section of this website.
Your social worker is a person who is there for you and you will get to know them well over the time that they are involved with you. It is their job to help keep you safe, listen to what you think and say and make plans with you for your future that are the best plans for you.
They will make sure you are being looked after properly and will keep in touch with your family too, so everyone works together for you and understands what is happening.
All our social workers are properly qualified and trained to help young people and their families.
There will be times when it might be necessary to change your social worker, but we will always try to avoid that if possible so you get a chance to build up a good relationship and you feel that you have a person you can rely on and trust.
What do they do?
Your social worker is one of the main people you can turn to if you are worried or having difficulties and along with others, will help you sort things out. They will explain why you are in care, help you understand decisions that are made and make plans with you for your future.
They should always listen to your wishes and take notice of your feelings.
One of the most important jobs they have to do for you is write your Care Plan which surprise surprise is a plan of what will happen in your life while you are in care! Once it is written, your social worker will work with you, your family and others, to make sure that what it says, happens.
How often will I see my Social Worker?
When you first come into care, you will see your social worker more often - they must come and see you in the first week at least, and after that they should come and see you regularly and check out how things are going for you.
Our Promise to you is that you will see your social worker at least once every 6 weeks unless you do not want to. Sometimes when things are tough for you, you might want to see your social worker more often and they will do their best to make sure they are there for you but they have to spread their time across a number of young people, so it is not always possible but they will try.
What if I am not happy with my Social Worker?
There may be times when you might not be happy with your social worker, and this could be down to a whole range of different reasons. We would always encourage you to try and talk to your social worker and try to sort things out but we understand that sometimes this just might not be possible. If you find yourself in this position, there are others that you could turn to for help to sort it out e.g. your carer or you can contact the Children's Rights Officer - Elaine Constable and she will help.
Different types of Social Worker.
We have talked about Children's Social Workers above, but you might also come across some other types of social workers while you are in care...
- Fostering Social Workers or Supervising Social Workers as we call them: This is a social worker for your foster carers, who will offer them support and advice to help them give you the best care. You will get to see them when they visit your carers.
- Residential Social Workers: If you are looked after in a residential home or children's home instead of a foster placement then some of the care workers that look after you are social workers too. They will not replace your Children's Social Worker but will work with them to make sure you get the best care and the best plans are made for you.
Support Workers help social workers by doing certain jobs e.g. arrange your contact with your family, transport you there and back, as well as supervise contact if that is needed. They also do pieces of work with you from your Care Plan like life story work or wishes and feelings work. They will work closely with your social worker to make sure they are doing the best job for you.
They do not have to have the same qualifications as you need to be a social worker but they will be used to working with children, young people and their families and be good listeners and able to get along with you.
A manager is someone who 'manages' someone else - it simply means they are the boss of someone!
Your social worker will have a manager - in fact everyone that is involved in working with you will have a boss of some kind and it is their job to make sure that their staff are doing their job properly.
A manager will make decisions that your worker cannot make on their own, and will meet regularly with them to make sure that everything is going as it should be and if not, then help to sort out any problems that are getting in the way.
If you want to know the name of your worker's manager then ask them or contact us and we will let you know.
Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO)
There are 9 Independent Reviewing Officers for Children in Care in Leicestershire - all based in County Hall in the Safeguarding & Improvement Unit. If you click on the words above you will get a short explanation of what an IRO is but here's a bit more for those of you who want a bit extra...
If you know the name of your IRO you can contact them in the Contacts section of the website. We have put their photographs in too to make it easier to spot them!
If you are not sure, Contact Us, ring the Safeguarding & Improvement Unit on 0116 3057570 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org and there will always be someone who is happy to help.
What is an IRO and what do they do?
They are the people that check that the plan for your care - your Care Plan - is the right plan for you, that you are involved in saying what your plan has in it and that you understand what is happening. It is their job to make sure that there is a good plan in place for you, that you are being looked after properly and all your needs are being met in the best way.
They are in charge of your Review Meetings and check at them, and in between, that your social worker and everyone else involved in your care is doing what they should be to make things happen for you as agreed in your plan.
If they are concerned about your Care Plan they will make sure they speak to you and get your views. They will agree with you what they are going to do to put it right and then decide what changes need to be made to your plan and who will be responsible for these, to get things back on track. They might decide to call an early review meeting to help get things sorted. Sometimes your IRO might need to get some of the really big bosses involved, whatever it takes - your IRO has the power to make sure this happens.
How often will I see my IRO?
When you first come into care you will get matched with an IRO that we will try and make sure remains the same for the whole time that you are in care. Your IRO should make contact with you before your first Review Meeting which has to take place by 28 days of you coming into care.
After this you will see them at least once again before your next review, which will be within another 3 months; then at least every 6 months.
Your IRO will meet with you before or at each review (unless you do not want to), as well as in between if that is what is needed to make sure things are going ok for you. They will make sure that your views and wishes have been listened to, that you are involved in decisions about you and will want to check out with you what you think should happen.
What if I am not happy with my IRO?
If you are not happy with the job your IRO is doing for you, there are 3 IRO managers you can contact, or get someone else on your behalf to contact.
They are all based in the Safeguarding & Improvement Unit at County Hall and can be reached on 0116 3057570. They are Judith Jones; Donna Benjamin and Martin Wilson - their details are in the Contacts section of this website or you can use the Contact Us page.
We will be more than happy to hear from you so we can sort out any problems you might have.