Young people and children can often be more affected by a family crisis than adults may first think. The breakdown of a relationship or the diagnosis of a serious illness can affect their moods and behaviour, even if you try to protect them from the worst. Some children can go off the rails at this point, misbehaving at school and at home, while others become withdrawn and unwilling to engage with family members or friends. A social worker can help in either of these situations by providing a friendly ear and some practical suggestions that could make the child’s life easier.
Social Work and Schools
Sometimes a school may contact the local social work department if they have a concern about a particular child or their parents. They may suspect child abuse or perhaps the child has suddenly started behaving badly and out of character. The parents would also be contacted by the school as social workers would need to involve them from the start. No matter what the suspicions of staff may be. The social worker, along with child psychologists if necessary, would try and figure out what is upsetting the child and then come up with an appropriate care plan. This might involve something as simple as an eye test – if children are struggling at school and misbehaving, they might need glasses. Sometimes healthcare professionals might need to be consulted to see if the child may be autistic or have ADHD. Social workers can ask for these tests to be carried out and help the parents and child deal with the results, talking them through the consequences and possible treatments. If the situation is found to be more serious, then outside therapy might be needed or if the child is being abused, they would have to be removed from the home for their own safety. All of these situations are often diagnosed with the help of vigilant teachers who work with the local social work department to help protect the children in their care.
Social Work and Problems at Home
If a family is facing a crisis, often the children can be the most affected; sometimes they may not understand what is happening and this can cause them to become withdrawn and quiet or alternatively loud and badly behaved. Specialist social workers can help children through difficult times, either by just talking with them and spending time with them, or arranging for them to get help through local voluntary organisations. In most towns there are befriending groups that match up kids who have had some problems in their life with adults who will take them out for a day and become a good friend to them too. Social workers can refer children that they think would benefit from this befriending to the charities and hopefully improve the child’s life while their family deals with whatever crisis is affecting them.