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Communication Skills in Social Work | Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 1985 words Published: 19th Jul 2018

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In the context of Social Work practice learning (Children's Services Assessment Team) and the social work role discuss a particular piece of practice, giving consideration to the skills and models of communication and empowerment that were used.



Organized under the United Kingdom’s Department of Health, Children’s Services represents a division of Social Care which is administered in each region under the auspices of the Children’s Commissioner (Children Act 2004). Children’s Services is committed to the safeguarding and rights of children through high quality services over a broad array of provisions. The Children’s Assessment Team under the Department of Health has the responsibility for the handling of children and their families who have benne either referred and or have contacted their respective Child Care agency (London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, 2006). The preceding includes the offering of advice and help while ensuring that the correct decisions are rendered with regard to the urgency dictated by the circumstances along with the proper response level.

The preceding represents an ‘assessment’ as carried out in each individual circumstance, which requires skills, communication and the powers to carried the aforementioned out. This examination shall look into a particular area of practice concerning Social Work in the Children’s Services Assessment Team, giving consideration to the skills, models of communication and empowerment involved.

The Referral and Assessment aspect of Children’s Services represents one of the most important areas of the many services offered by this Department in that it is responsible for acting upon referrals concerning children and their families that are in need of assessment (Southwark Council, 2006). The Referral and Assessment Team provides intervention as well as support and is responsible for the initial intake process covering the assessment of need and urgency, prioritizing said cases on an individual basis (Barnett London Borough, 2006). One of the most important areas, which includes child protection, legal proceedings and that children in need are looked after, is the initial process which identifies a child in need as opposed to child protection (Wrexham County Borough, 2001). The manner in which the referral was initiated has a bearing upon the type of skill, communication and application of techniques involved. In this instance, this examination shall utilize the example of an abused child that has been brought to the attention of Child Services through calls made by a concerned citizen, or other means. The data and information gathered in the initial contact, regarding the allegation, requires immediate follow up to assess the truthfulness of the allegation and thus whether further action is warranted (Barnett London Borough, 2006). Said referral can come from a number of sources, such as neighbors, teachers, school nurse, and other sources (Barnett London Borough, 2006). Once the process has been initiated the most important aspect entails the skills, and communication techniques employed.

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The core mission of all social work is the promotion of social justice through its practice (Healy, 1998, pp. 897-914). Within this framework, social workers are in a system that promotes collaborative approaches representing analysis and prioritization (Healy and Mulholland, 1998, pp. 3-27). Once the decision has been made to see the child in question, as a result of either the suspicion or proof regarding action being warranted, the skills in communication as well as observation come into play. Thompson (2003, pp. 10) advises that the importance of communication is that it permits us to transmit information from one person to another and it represents “… a complex, multilevel event”. In communicating with children as well as adults, social workers need to be well versed in interaction that accompanies communication and contact, and the complexities entailed, as well as the messages on a verbal and non verbal plane (Thompson, 2003. pp. 10-12, 33 – 34, 182-183).

In those instances where there is an absence of external physical evidence or medical examination, the social worker has to be able to ascertain from conversations and observations with the child as well as the adults involved regarding tone of voice, eye movements, reactions, and other behavior whether truthful replies are being given. The preceding represents areas that encompass theory as well as practice. Adams et al (1998, pp. 253-272) state that the context of social work has changed over the past twenty years as a result of new public management systems that have decreased the value of theory along with the value driven aspects involved in human social work.

In the context of children’s services the Referral and Assessment Team intercede on behalf of the child through policy decisions and active support when the initial interview uncovers need, depending upon the circumstances. This aspect represents item number six under Article Two, General Function, of the Children Act 2004 (Children Act 2004). The Department of Health (2006) provides for advocacy safeguards for children to protect them from abuse as well as poor practice. This aspect provides for children themselves to be a part of the process, having and active voice that can be and is heard to participate in reaching determinations (Department of Health, 2006). Under provisions as set forth, the standards and core principles that children can expect are identified as (Department of Health, 2006):

  1. The role of children in advocacy,
  2. policy context,
  3. equal opportunities,
  4. confidentiality,
  5. publicity,
  6. accessibility,
  7. independence,
  8. complaints,
  9. procedures, and
  10. the management and governance of services

The preceding along with empowerment provides the child with a real voice as well as organization that is committed to ensure their well being as found under the Children’s Services Regulations 2005 of the Children Act 2004 (Children’s Services Inspection Regulations, 2005). Through a formalized inspection, review and analysis process involving “… two or more inspectorates and commissions, the process is ensured of impartiality as well as adequate oversight. Articles 2.3 under this provision sets forth “… that relevant assessments, inspections, reviews, investigations and studies … are conducted on cases. These measures are a part of the framework of checks and balances incorporated into the process for the safeguarding of the child who comes to the attention of Children’s Services. Empowerment also provides for the offering of assistance, counseling and advice to parents in need of help in order to safeguard a child’s well being. The formalized process sets forth specific guidelines in all of the indicated areas, as well as a broader scope for a matter of such national importance.


Owing to the sensitive nature of services involving children, specific case studies or references to such are not available, for the obvious reasons. Under the context of the Referral and Assessment Team of social work, a hypothetical example was used as the broad framework for the examination of practice learning and the social work role with consideration given to the skills and models of communication and empowerment. The Children Act 2004 and the Children’s Services Inspection Regulations, 2005 set forth specific procedures, guidelines and framework for the handling of child cases providing oversight safeguards through redundancy features.

Each regional Council works in partnership with the departments of Education and Health, as well as other social work teams to “… ensure the co-ordination of assessment of needs …” leading to the “… formulation of individual care plans and support packages” (Beacon Council, 2006). The process of referral and assessment is conducted under procedures that are of course subject to the individual expertise levels of the interviewers and case workers. However the safeguards of a multi-level internal review and follow up process catches any potential instances whereby a child might slip through the system due to any number of reasons. As is the case with any process involving humans and organizations, there are those occasions when the system or the person fails, however, given the multi level review and follow up process, such mistakes do not last too long.


Adams, R., Dominelli, L., Payne, M. (1998) Social Work: Themes, Issues and Critical Debates. Houndsmills Macmillan

Barnett London Borough (2006) Supporting Families Division. Retrieved on 10 December 2006 from http://www.barnet.gov.uk/index/health-social-care/children-and-family-care/supporting-families-division.htm

Beacon Council (2006) Children and Families. Retrieved on 12 December 2006 from http://www.bexley.gov.uk/service/social/childrenandfamilies/disabilities.html

Children Act (2004) Children Act 2004. Retrieved on 10 December 2006 from http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2004/40031--b.htm#1

Children’s Services Inspection Regulations (2005) Children’s Services Inspection Regulations. Retrieved on 12 December 2006 from's%20Services%20Inspection%20Regulations%20Consultation%20Document%20-%20PDF.pdf&w=uk+children's+services+assessment+team&d=IY3kv5IFNg0E&icp=1&.intl=us

Department of Health (2006) Department of Health: Children’s Advocacy. Retrieved on 11 December 2006 from http://www.dh.gov.uk/Consultations/ResponsesToConsultations/ResponsesToConsultationsDocumentSummary/fs/en?CONTENT_ID=4017049&chk=vFWybl

Healy, K. (1998) Participation and Child Protection: The Importance of Context. Vol. 28. British Journal of Social Work

Healy, K., Mulholland, J. 81998) Discourse analysis and activist social work: Investigating practice processes. Vol. 25, Number 3. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare

London Borough of Barking & Dagenham (2006) Children’s Services Children’s Assessment Team. Retrieved on 10 December 2006 from London Borough of Barking & Dagenham

Southwark Council (2006) Children’s Services. Retrieved on 10 December 2006 from http://www.southwark.gov.uk/Uploads/FILE_10982.pdf

Thompson, N. (2003) Communication and Language: A Handbook of Theory and Practice. Palgrave Macmillan

Wrexham County Borough (2001) Assessment Framework for Children in Need and their families. September 2001. Wrexham Social Services Department, Directorate of Personal Services, Wrexham, United Kingdom


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