Following lengthy discussions in 2014, The SWEET Project was commissioned to undertake a pilot of Family Assessments for Children’s Services South. We are extremely proud of this achievement which makes us one of only a few voluntary sector agencies delivering statutory work in Birmingham.
The pilot was deemed a total success and is now being rolled out throughout Birmingham. This work complements the Life Story work, including Court Directed work already being undertaken, and expands the statutory intervention opportunities available for students' learning.
The Children and Family pathway is now considered by universities to be a statutory placement.
A Child’s Perspective
Life Story is an important part of the experience of all children who enter the care system, regardless of the context (i.e. adoption or fostering). It enables children to understand their life, and to work with a practitioner through the decisions which led them to where they are. See our Download page for more information about Life Story.
Social Worker in Training (SWIT)
Social workers in training who are allocated to Life Story work will initially be expected to analyse the referral to gain an understanding of the child’s past and present living arrangements. SWITs will then liaise with the referrer (usually the Local Authority) to obtain information such as Child Permanency Reports or Child In Care Plans and an overview of current and historical events, in order to understand the child’s life. SWITs will then undertake between 6 and 10 sessions with each child to ascertain their wishes and views about their life in conjunction with free play and structured information-gathering activities. SWITs will also gather information from the other agencies which are working with the children or family, such as TESS, and will meet the biological family to ascertain their wishes and views for the book. SWITs will then compile the information in a child-centred format ensuring that the child's wishes, views and identity are reflected throughout. This information is then presented to the child and the foster or adoption family.
Most of the referrals received for Life Story work are made by the Local Authority because of the complex nature of information gathering needed to complete this intervention. Most of the information collected is from the Local Authority's Care First system, to highlight the child’s transition through Local Authority care. Life Story work is a paid service and therefore the consent of the Team Manager and/or Assistant Director is required before agreements are entered into.
Life Story work is usually completed in 12-16 weeks. However, if information gathering is particularly difficult, then this period can be extended. Social workers will receive a prompt and engaging child-centred service including 6-8 sessions with the child and sessions with the foster carer or biological family to gather information. The Life Story books, once checked by a qualified member of staff and the social worker, are laminated and bound for the child to keep forever.