An anonymous diary entry by one of Circle’s family support workers, who has had a busy week supporting parents and their children.
Names have been changed
I work part-time (18 hours per week) so my diary is from Wednesday to Friday.
I attend a LAC (Looked-After-Children) Review today regarding a two month old baby. The baby is currently in foster care whilst her mother undergoes a parenting capacity assessment for twelve weeks. The baby was born with withdrawal symptoms so needed to stay in hospital for a week post-birth. The mother is currently stable on a methadone programme and is engaging with relevant services reducing the amount on a planned reduction programme.
Since the birth, all the professionals involved in the case have remarked on the positive change exhibited by the mother. Prior to the birth, she found it extremely difficult to engage with agencies and often missed appointments. Preparing for and the arrival of her baby daughter was a motivating factor for this mother in engaging and accessing support. The mother is now engaging fully with Circle, Criminal Justice (she is on one year’s Community Payback Order and needs to attend weekly appointments), Children and Families Social Work and the Health Nurse.
Mum has contact three times per week for an hour, but today it is decided that this will increase to four times per week starting next week. If things continue to progress as they have been doing, it is suggested that baby will possibly be returning to Mum full-time in a couple of months’ time. The baby’s father is also present at the LAC Review having just been released from prison, but he too will have to undergo a parenting assessment for twelve weeks.
I submit a report to the review providing an overview of the support provided and how the mother has engaged with Circle since accessing support earlier in the year. There have been a number of practical supports provided in preparation for the baby’s arrival including acquiring many items such as a travel system, baby chair, bottle sterilising kit, Moses basket, baby toys and so on. Weekly support has provided opportunity to explore and promote this mother’s understanding and confidence on parenting and the importance of developing positive attachment with her daughter.
After the review, I take both parents back to the mother’s flat which was allocated to her a week ago. It is temporary accommodation though, so I have made referrals to a couple of charitable agencies who offer housing support.
Today I travel to a prison to visit two women who have just been referred to Circle. Unfortunately one of the women is attending court and there had not been the opportunity to share this information with me prior to my arrival. I am able to meet with the other young woman who has not been in prison before and is finding it to be a very traumatic experience. She is crying and distressed. Through our discussions, I become aware that she has suffered so much grief with multiple recent bereavements in the family, and her way of self-medicating the pain was to drink alcohol. Her two children live with her mother, but she had, prior to imprisonment, daily contact and had the children to stay overnight at weekends. However, just a few days prior to a Panel Meeting where she hoped the decision would be to return the children to her full-time care, she was drinking alcohol and under the influence and had a big argument with her mother and put a brick through the window.
She is very upset and full of remorse. We spend some time discussing her support needs and how Circle can also help her by signposting her to bereavement counselling. Isolation is a huge issue as she has moved towns to be nearer her family, so we highlight this as another goal we will work on. She seems relieved to be able to talk about it all without being judged and to have an empathetic ear.
Today, I do a home visit to a Foster Carer’s home to begin my 1:1 art therapy work with a twelve year old girl whose mother is in prison and has been in and out of custody for many years. Her father does have her overnight each week, but feels he cannot cope with her behaviour and is anxious and lacks confidence in his ability to put in place boundaries for fear of being judged as punitive. The mother and father are not in a relationship and have a fragile and volatile relationship which has been witnessed by the child throughout her life.
Having recently attended a LAC Review for this young girl, where everyone expressed concern about her recent behaviour and school truancy, her Social Worker asked me if I would do some 1:1 work with her to enable her to express her feelings and thoughts and to feel that she has an adult that she can trust.
We do some introductory work with ‘Getting to Know You’ questions on cards which I have made. The questions evoked discussions and some giggles. We then do some work with dough and having made models of her family, I am able to ask questions about her models which gives me more insight into their relationships and her feelings about her Mum, Dad and her views of her own self. This is an important area of support for this girl in providing a space where she has the opportunity to explore her thoughts and feelings and be listened to. This work will continue on a weekly basis.
After this visit, which lasts over two hours, I do two more home visits; one to see the lady I saw on Wednesday, and another to a service user who has just been released from prison. She requires support to fill out housing benefit forms and we spend an hour and a half on the phone applying for her ESA benefit.
Each day, when I finish visits to service users, I record the work I have carried out on Circle’s database.