Social worker v foster carer: why do we do our jobs and is the stress worth it? -

May 16, 2018

As I have been both in my time I thought I would compare the two professions.

As a child protection social worker I would leave for work and be at my desk by 8:30am. I had a ‘to do list’ which I never completed as I was always adding to it quicker that I deleted items = stressful √

! would try to concentrate and write a report and the telephone would ring – another irate service user = stressful √
I was particularly worried about a child and would make a visit; despite making an appointment the family were out. I would visit again later – after three attempts I would be pulling my hair out = stressful √

My day was supposed to finish at 5:30pm but I had to place at child in foster care; didn’t finish until 10:30pm and missed my own daughter’s play, concert, party (add what you want I missed loads of events) = stressful √

A parent angry as the court had granted a Care Order in respect of a child screamed in my face and made threats to get me and my family – it’s a sign of weakness to complete an incident report; so, stiff upper lip = stressful √

Can’t spend as much time with service users as I would like because of all the paperwork and tick box exercises I have to do = stressful √

As a foster carer I would accept a placement; I would rush around making sure everything was clean and tidy and cook a nice meal to welcome the child. No knock at the door; no placement – no idea why not? = Stressful √

When I did have a child in placement I worked 24/7 -never a break = stressful √

The child I was looking after and cared for had a melt down; I have no idea of what triggered it = stressful √

A teenager didn’t return at their curfew time – had to ring the police and report them missing; the police didn’t turn up for hours = double stressful √√

My foster child was let down at contact again; I was left to pick up the pieces = stressful √

I know that the social worker is a court in respect of my foster child but no information forth coming even though my foster child is asking me what the decision was = stressful √

The foster child lives with me but nobody seems to take my views into account as I’m not a ‘professional’ = stressful √

The list for both could go on and on but you get the picture. Why do we do our jobs?

– A child smiles for the first time.
– A lonely child has the confidence to make friends
– A child sleeps safely
– A child who was called stupid does well at school
– Parents who have been struggling are able to cope and they thank you for your help
– A child tells you they love you Challenging behaviour shows an improvement
– A child who has been afraid of affection gives you a hug.

You do the maths; the hearts outnumber the stressful periods – this is why we keep doing our jobs. Do you agree?

Nicky is the Director of North East at UK Fostering