Parents’ views on improving relationships with their social workers

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Summary: In England, the reason why most families have a social worker is because their children have been identified as having suffered or being at risk of suffering significant harm from abuse or neglect or requiring a statutory service for another need. Research has shown that positive relationships between social workers and families are essential. A study to evaluate Signs of Safety (Sofs) provided the opportunity to explore the quality of this relationship through the perceptions of 270 families who were in contact with children's social care (CSC). Over half were satisfied with the relationship, and many of the remaining families were able to identify what had stood in the way of it developing.
Findings: The areas which were of most concern was the high turnover of social workers with the attendant lack of consistency, poor communication, a failure to provide services which families had been promised and the withdrawal of support too soon. Most dissatisfactions stemmed either from parents believing they had not been shown sufficient respect or, that while they had been drawn into a statutory intervention, they had not been provided with sufficient support to address their problems.
Application: While some of the difficulties were connected to limited resources and overstretched services, others came about as a result of poor practice. The views expressed by these parents provide the basis for reflection amongst social workers, their managers and strategic leads on how improvements may be achieved and, in doing so, strengthen relationships with parents and potentially reduce future demand.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-18
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • social work
  • social workers
  • child protection
  • children and families
  • parenting
  • social work practice


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