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Our experts answer your questions on social work practice, career progression and more…

Welcome to our Q&A feature, where we bring together our network of social work specialists to answer questions sent in by you.

Make sure your manager and team know your whereabouts and the time set for your visit. Check the full case history before you go. Also, you’ll want to ask yourself: Are there any risk indicators? Does this require two people? Would an office visit be more applicable?

If it is an announced visit, introduce yourself first by phone and start to build your relationship before you visit. If it is unannounced and you’re newly qualified, take a colleague. Ideally, you should have a buddy or mentor. Have you got parental consent to contact agencies? If so, do your research first. You might want to consider, if applicable, a visit with another agency that the family are already familiar and comfortable with.
If you do visit alone, check in by texting a colleague as you arrive. Request a call if you have not checked out within a set period of time (an hour etc.). Make sure you take your mobile phone and if you feel uncomfortable or threatened on the doorstep, do not go in. Remember your skills and training; communication, empathy, conflict resolution, listening and empowerment. Ultimately, your safety comes first.  

Sarah O’Toole

I have given evidence hundreds of times, and I found the following helps. Be yourself, be honest, don’t guess at answers; nothing is wrong with saying you don’t know. If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification. 

Revise your case before going into court. Nerves are good; they tend to go after the first couple of questions. Answer to the Judge not to the lawyer. Make your answers as short as possible. Do not let the lawyer confuse you and ask the Judge for the question to be rephrased. Keep to the facts, don’t expand with opinion. Think before you answer; small silences are fine. Ask for time to think if needed. Take big breaths and try and relax. 

Robin Watts

Our CPD assessors recommend you ensure a CPD activity is undertaken and recorded at least every 3 months and that you should get in the habit of recording your CPD activities as part of your day-to-day work. Sparing a few minutes a month to log activities throughout the year will prevent spending a long time going back and trying to remember what activities you have completed. 

Before you start, make sure you look at the HCPC website, as there is a lot of information designed to help you, including sample profiles and video tutorials ( registrants/cpd/profile/). Familiarise yourself with the examples of activities provided in our CPD guide (also available on the HCPC website) as there may be things that you already do on a weekly basis that you may not have recognised as a CPD activity.

Sophie Cornillon 

Ideally, I think it is good to have had some experience of working in child care social work before making such a move as this gives you so much insight into the children and their backgrounds, which you can use to help foster carers and adopters.

CoramBAAF and Fostering Network are two organisations that offer lots of training and publications about Fostering and Adoption and, obviously, Sanctuary Training provide specific courses in undertaking fostering assessments.

I would also recommend that practitioners familiarise themselves with the legislation about fostering and adoption which would include the Fostering Services Regulations (2011, amended in 2013) and the National Minimum Standards (2011). 

Roger Chapman

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