Like doctors, lawyers and teachers, social workers must follow professional standards. These apply whether they work with children or with adults.

Here’s some of the important standards that social workers must follow. Your social worker must:

  • Do what’s best for you.
  • Encourage others to do what’s best for you.
  • Communicate well – when speaking and writing.
  • Only do work that they have the knowledge and skills to do.
  • Respect your privacy (often called confidentiality).
  • Take action if he or she is worried about your safety.
  • Be open when things have gone wrong.
  • Be honest and trustworthy.
  • Keep records of his or her work with you.
If you need help with your rights, please go to the People and places part of our site.
Your rights - general

Social workers visit children and young people in care to check you are happy, safe and well looked after.

The law says how often every child in care must be visited. It doesn’t matter where you are living. If you are in care, your social worker must visit you:

  • Within 1 week of you moving to live in a new place.
  • Then at least every 6 weeks for the first year.
  • Then every 6 weeks unless it has been agreed that you will live where you are until you are 18, in which case you must be visited at least once every 3 months.
  • AND whenever you make a reasonable request for a visit.
  • (rights4children is for children and young people living with others in group settings, but here’s something about foster care. If you have been living with the same foster carers for a year, and the plan is that you will stay with this foster family until you leave care, visits from your social worker can be reduced from the minimum of every 6 weeks to at least twice a year but only if you agree to this. And you don’t lose your right to request extra visits if you change your mind and/or your situation changes).

The law says your social worker must usually speak to you in private, unless you refuse this. If your social worker finds that your welfare is not being protected, he or she should contact your independent reviewing officer and a review of your needs and care must be carried out.

If you were accommodated by the council and enter custody
If the council was looking after you with the agreement of your parents, and you enter custody, you are legally no longer in care. However, the law says:

  • A social worker must visit you within 10 days of you entering custody.
  • After this, you have the right to ask for visits and your council should do its best to visit when you ask.
  • Your young offender institution, secure training centre or secure children’s home can request visits too.
  • Your parent and the person helping you from a youth offending team can also ask the council to visit you.
  • Visits to you should usually happen in private – unless you don’t want this.
  • After each visit, your social worker must write a report saying: whether he or she thinks your welfare is being protected; how often you should get visits; any help that is needed so you can see your parents while in custody; and if the council should look after you again when you leave custody. The report should say if you will need any other help when you leave custody.
  • You should get a copy of the report written by your social worker after each visit.
  • Copies should also be given to your parent, the manager of your prison or secure children’s home, your youth offending team worker and anyone else that is, or could be, helping you in the future.

Do you have the right to speak with your social worker in private?

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