I was first introduced to the Jones family when my manager, Sarah, asked me to undertake a Social Work Assessment independent of the Social Worker allocated to the family something we often do to get a second opinion on a case.

The family had been known to Child Protection and Family Support for a number of years and the children were subject to Child Protection Plans. However the feeling was that no progress was being made. The children were suffering from chronic neglect and were at risk of sexual abuse.

My role was to assess the family and make a recommendation as to what additional support they would need moving forward or whether to instigate legal proceedings.

The first task was to read all of the case files on the family and speak to the various professionals working with them. After this, I began visiting the family on regular occasions to gather information which could help inform my assessment. These visits allowed me to form a professional relationship with the parents and their four children.

The main problem I encountered was the parents’ lack of honesty about their own personal relationship and the day-to-day living within the house. The children would lieabout the situation too so they didn’t get their parents into trouble.

The hardest thing to overcome was getting the children to open up’ about how they felt about what has happening at home. Despite the circumstances they were living in, they were naturally protective about their parents.

To try and get the children to trust me, I used a combination of verbal questioning, the Button Method and spending time simply observing the family. My observation sessions seemed to put the whole family at ease and they would openly chat away about day-to-day living. This gave me a valuable insight into the family’s daily routine and also highlighted the neglect the children were enduring on a daily basis.

The Button Method work I did with the children also helped me to assess their attachments to each other and their parents. It’s a process where each child picks a button to represent themselves and other buttons to represent others who are important to them. They then place the other buttons near to their own, depending on how close they feel to that person.

This proved to be an invaluable piece of work, as it was during this time the children told me about further abuse they had suffered and how this had made them feel. They were living in a world of confusion and chaos.

My final recommendation was that the children could sadly no longer reside in the care of their parents. So with my assessment and the evidence of the allocated Social Worker, an Interim Care Order was secured – which led to the four children being placed into foster care.

For me, I feel an overwhelming sense of relief that we’ve made a difference and ensured these children, who have endured years of neglect and risk of sexual harm, are now being well cared for and are safe.

The children are now in a place of safety and are thriving.

All names have been changed to protect the identity of the family and children involved.