Social Work Law
This assignment involves a case study where Ralph, a fourteen year old boy, is currently in foster care because his mother; Kerry, felt she was unable to control him due to his behaviour. However, Kerry has now expressed that she is unhappy with this foster placement and has requested that her son be returned to live with her and his two younger brothers. The scenario becomes more complex owing to the fact that Ralph has disclosed that his mother had regularly hit him with a walking stick. In this essay I will seek to consider the main practice issues raised by the scenario of the case study. Using the materials provided within the course along with my own professional experience, I will outline relevant legislation whilst demonstrating the significance it has on the assessment and any subsequent intervention that may be required in the given situation
Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 clearly states;
‘When a court determines any question with respect to – (a) the upbringing or a child; or (b) the administration of a child’s property or the application of any income arising from it, the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration. [s.1(1)]
This reflects the social work professional’s prime concern. Bearing this in mind, as the social worker involved in this case study, I would initially want to identify whether any of the children involved were at imminent risk of significant harm.
The support and protection of children cannot be achieved by a single agency. ...Every service has to play its part. All staff must have placed upon them the clear expectation that there primary responsibility is to the child and his or her family.
(DH and Home Office, 2003, paras 17.92-17.93)
The Children Act 2004 obliges all agencies that come into contact working with children must share information and work together to safeguard the welfare of children. My primary task would be to arrange a safeguarding strategy meeting. This would facilitate the sharing of information between professionals whilst also determining the most appropriate course of action to take next. Those attending the meeting would include; the area Child Protection Officer, an education professional (such as the appointed Child Protection teacher), the police, a health professional (such as the school nurse) and the social worker. Other agencies may also be asked to attend such as the youth offending team or CAMHS (Children and adolescent mental health service). At the meeting, the professionals will discuss the best response to the allegations and the extent of risk that is posed towards the three children involved.
There are several different options that can be decided. After careful consideration and agreement, it might be the general consensus that no further action is needed and the case will be subsequently dropped. However with this case study there is an allegation of physical abuse which would suggest the family would be in need of some kind of assistance, thus Ralph may be recognised as a child in need. Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 states a child is in need if he/she is unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development. [s.17 (a)]. Ralph has not been attending school regularly. Subsequently this will lead to him falling behind and not developing educationally. Ralph has also started to drink alcohol and has also taken to staying out late, on one occasion not returning home until the following day. This behaviour obviously poses a risk to his health; nevertheless, it could also lead to a risk of significant harm. The threshold to identify when a need becomes a risk can vary depending on the professional making that assessment. Choosing to bring professionals together to a strategy meeting will ensure that the threshold is one that is safe and appropriate. The allegation from Ralph about his mother hitting him with a stick which was hard enough to cause severe bruising...
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