This personal statement will suit social work students who will soon qualify as social workers, and may want to look into applying for a Newly Qualified Social Worker role within children services.
Having completed two placements as part of my social work degree, I have gained some experience in working with children and families.
I have worked on a range of caseloads and worked effectively with other agencies to support vulnerable individuals within the community.
As specified in the recruitment guide, please find below examples and evidence of when I have evidenced these attributes.
1) Knowledge and experience of the role of statutory social work in safeguarding children.
This should include knowledge of relevant legislation, policy and procedure.
The role of statutory social work in safeguarding children involves providing services to the whole family and supporting them to make changes in their day-to-day lives. I have completed several assessments involving complex cases and have effectively managed my own caseload.
I have steered and chaired multi-agency meetings. For example, during a meeting, I was given the opportunity to explain the wishes and feelings work I carried out with the child and my views on risks identified. I made it clear that I believed the child was at risk of significant harm and all professionals present agreed with this.
Research carried out by Scragg and Mantell (2011) highlighted that children can experience abuse by a wide range of people both known and unknown to them. For instance, Victoria Climbie was murdered by her aunt.
Hence, I approached this case with vigilance and ensured the child was at the centre of the assessment process and his views and wishes were obtained.
With regard to relevant legislation, policy and procedure applicable to children services, I have the knowledge and understanding of key legislation that inform social work practice with children and families.
I appreciate the importance of and the need to adhere to the policies and procedures which aim to safeguard both professionals and service users.
Key legislation include;
i) Children Act 1989 (CA89)
ii) Children Act 2004 (CA04)
CA04 emphasise the need for local authorities and their partners (including the police, health service providers and the youth justice system) to co-operate in promoting the wellbeing of children and young people and to decide on how to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
Section 10 of the CA04 highlights the need for local authorities to cooperate and work together with other agencies to improve the well-being of children. Working Together to safeguard children 2015 is statutory guidance. It sets out how organisations and individuals should work together and how practitioners should conduct the assessment of children.
iii) The Framework for the assessment of children in need and their families (2000)
This framework provides a systematic way of analysing, understanding and recording what is happening to children and young people within their families and the wider context of the community in which they live.
I have used the framework to gain an understanding of complex issues and inter-relationships and have been able to make clear professional judgements based on information gathered.
I have been able to make judgements whether the child being assessed is in need, whether the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, what actions must be taken and which services would best meet the needs of a particular child and family. In addition, I have been able to make referrals to key agencies.
Other relevant legislation include the
- Human Rights Act 1998
- Children and Families Act 2014
- Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003
- Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009
2) Knowledge of services relevant to children, young people, families/carers.
Awareness of groups and partner agencies, with an understanding of multi-disciplinary or partnership working and impact on delivery of services to families.
I have an awareness of services relevant to children, young people, families/carers. For instance, I have successfully made a referral to the ‘Need Project’. The family had no recourse to public funds and were experiencing food deprivation. The Need Project provided food packages for the family on a weekly basis.
While working in adult services, I have worked with care providers and day centre management teams. This gave me the opportunity to identify services and signpost service users.
For instance, I signposted an adult with learning disabilities to befriending services to help him improve upon his interpersonal skills and widen his social network.
My placement has allowed me to gain an enormous amount of experience and an understanding of partnership working. Partnership working is vital to social work.
The ability to form strong professional relationships with partner agencies such as the police, schools and health visitors is one of my strengths.
I have carried out assessments under s17 of CA89 and have requested information from schools, the police and health visitors. I have been able to form strong professional relationships with these agencies in the process. I recognise that these agencies can be a source of vital information that can help me produce effective assessments.
For instance, information obtained from a school indicated that a child was struggling to bring in basic materials for a food tech class on a regular basis and she was not bringing in school lunch or paying for school dinners.
This information made me more aware of the needs of the child and her family. I was able to identify financial issues within the family unit as a result of mother having no recourse to public funds. Based on this, I did research on Zambrano relatives and realised that mother is entitled to stay in the UK and supported her to apply to Home Office.
As a student, my dissertation focused on unaccompanied asylum seeking children and the age assessment process. I have also been trained in the age assessment process.
Through this research and training, I have been able to identify the need for social workers to have effective working relationships with agencies and individuals who are involved in the lives of the children. For instance, an appropriate adult should be present when carrying out an age assessment to ensure that the assessment is fair.
The information-gathering process in determining the age of a child also involves information and views obtained from the police and medical professionals who may have had some involvement with the child. I realised that it is important to have a good working relationship with these agencies and individuals to ensure information sharing is timely.
3) Understanding of Equality and Diversity in Social Work
Equality means ensuring everyone has equal opportunities, regardless of their abilities, their background or their lifestyle. I recognise that there may be a power imbalance between social workers and service users.
However, with the Equality Act 2010 in place, this balance is brought to an equilibrium ensuring proportionality in practice.
I see an opportunity in restoring this balance in practice by taking a personalised approach when working with service users. I aim to work alongside service users rather than for them.
For instance, while working with adults with learning disabilities, I carried out person-centred reviews and sought active participation from the people who knew the service user very well. I explored what was working and what was not working from the service user’s perspective. I listened to their needs and concerns and then adapted their care packages to meet the needs identified.
Diversity means appreciating the differences between people and treating people’s values, beliefs, cultures and lifestyles with respect.
According to Banks (2012), the Kantian principle of respect for persons has been used to underpin a social worker – service user relationship. In my day-to-day interaction with children and families, I have always shown respect.
For instance, I visited a Muslim family and asked if I could take off my shoes. They were very grateful that I offered to remove my shoes and this fostered a good relationship with the family.
I find reflection beneficial in relation to diversity as it allows me to explore and critique my own practice. As well as social work values, as an individual, I hold my own personal values and it is important for me to have a good level of self-awareness so that these values and beliefs do not impact negatively on my practice or interfere with my ability to carry out a fair assessment.
To conclude, if offered the opportunity to work with your organisation, I would use the best of my abilities and skills in transforming the lives of children and families. I am passionate about social work and I am keen to start my professional career within this organisation. I feel that I have all the attributes necessary to make a great social worker.
My combined placement, work and life experiences have moulded me into an empathic, respectful, authentic, hardworking, self-motivated and reflective social worker.